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Is there a hillbilly curse on Evelyn Drive?

DUE to riotous living across the inlet, I reluctantly delayed noting this important West Vancouver date.

DUE to riotous living across the inlet, I reluctantly delayed noting this important West Vancouver date.

Belated unhappy 10th anniversary! It was on June 27, 2001 that the Vancouver Sun trumpeted the views of the owner of three Evelyn Drive lots under the headline Alarm Bells Sounded in West Vancouver's 'Dogpatch'.

Catchy, no? Ridiculous, yes. No sign on leafy Evelyn Drive of Li'l Abner, his lovesick bosomy adorer Daisy Mae, or Mammy Yokum, whose homey philosophy was summed up: "Good is better than evil, because it's so much nicer."

For readers under age 86, Al Capp's Li'l Abner was the most wildly popular comic strip of its time, perhaps all time. Capp lampooned everyone: hillbillies (er, guitar-strumming country music singers), senators, pastors, doctors, mobsters, prophets, spell-casters, war heroes, capitalists, Russians, Englishmen, Brooklynites.

Capp even openly jabbed his own United Features Syndicate for exploiting his contract. (Hmm, I'll keep that in mind.) He also broke an unwritten taboo, satirizing another cartoon - wickedly sending up Chester Gould's stiffly serious Dick Tracy strip as Lester Gooch and Fearless Fosdick respectively, but not respectfully.

Has this generation even heard of him? Capp has been culturally erased. Politically incorrect, you know.

Back to West Van's "Dogpatch." Evelyn Drive in fact was a charming meandering road above Park Royal Shopping Centre. In a less money-obsessed society it would have been rebuilt houseby-house by its owners as they saw fit, organically changing.

But neighbourhood opposition was crushed by the great god Development and the pieties of "homes for seniors" downsizing to condos from their WV homes. How many discover that profit from their nice principal residences all but disappears - eaten up by sales commissions, tax, re-hookup of services, legal, monthly condo fees and other costs?

The Sun's boosterism for Evelyn Drive redevelopment was blatant. Then-columnist Paula Brook attributed the "Dogpatch" tag to "its own residents," hot for redevelopment. But in her long piece she quoted exactly one - three-lot owner Dan Pekovich.

Ten years later the area is in a mess, in limbo, and in bankruptcy. Fenced and silent, it consists of a road off Taylor Way to non-existent dream condos offered at $650,000 to $1 million.

You have to feel for the Maleks, owners of Millennium Development, and especially family spokesman Shahram.

They have a demonstrated passion for building innovative, quality buildings. Sadly, their vision and ambition overreached their judgment, and they were scuppered by their simultaneous, vaster Olympics Village housing project - Vancouver's pale imitation of Montreal's "Big Owe" of the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Maybe ghosts wandering around "Dogpatch" put a hillbilly curse on the project.

. . .

So what are the cops themselves saying? My Secret Agent TY558MA, imbedded deep in the Vancouver Police Department, reports this buzz around the cop shop: Police Chief Jim Chu is toast because of his handling of the June 15 downtown riot. Which, do you need reminding, left 15 vehicles burned and more than 50 street-level businesses smashed and looted.

I say Chu would then scandalously take the fall for Mayor Gregor (Now Where the Hell Did the Y of My Name Go?) Robertson.

Robertson set the stage for this disaster. It was the Pollyanna mayor who, ignoring the city's fulsome mob-violence history, believed that 100,000odd liquored-up youths, invited downtown to watch violent crucial hockey games on huge screens, would respond gratefully and appreciate chummy, high-fiving police using a light hand to keep order.

Robertson's dumb misreading of human nature, of young males, and of the ugly underbelly of the World's Most Liveable City, is totally in character.

. . .

Protesters in Quebec held up signs to royal visitors Will and Kate: Parasites Go Home. Considering generations of bribing and babying of Quebec, transfer of millions from the "have" provinces to the most notorious tit-sucking "have not" one, they should have turned their signs around, read them - and gone home.

. . .

One John Jones, North Vancouver, insists my item a while ago was wrong: City of Vancouver taxes this year didn't rise about 10 per cent, as stated here, but only 3.82 per cent (versus 1.1 per cent in West Vancouver, which I agree overlooks separatelybilled utilities - a practice I've never felt is logical). The rest of Vancouver's tax bill was for public schools, TransLink, etc.

In the real world: My wife and I have a house in Vancouver (in West Southlands, sort of Point Grey, with horses) as well as one in West Vancouver. Assessed values are fairly close, Vancouver's higher - unbelievable, if you saw the two houses. My new monthly WV bill rises just $10. Vancouver's jumps $45 - almost 10 per cent, as I stated. Throw in my current WV utilities and the monthly tax payments would be: WV $324, Vancouver $510.

Satisfied, John Jones? Who, blame my suspicious mind, may not be John Jones at all, Internet potential for anonymity being what it is. I even have a certain person in mind.

tlautens@telus.net

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