|The Ivanhoe Hotel and Bar, Vancouver, British Columbia:
life as a writer in the midst of madness
The following excerpt is from IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
| Ah, the Ivanhoe. No place like it on earth, not this earth anyway. The rooms of this down-and-out, wayfarer, and drunk's hotel were the cheapest in the city, and had become a sanctuary of sorts for all those who belonged nowhere else, and who had been chased to its front door by the invisible dogs barking at their heals. And the bar down below was no different. Walking into it was like entering the alien bar in Star Wars. Every being imaginable was there. It was a mirror for the confused and erratic, cosmic convention of lost and alien souls which populate the subconscious frontier. It was here that I would first experience the throbbing pulse of the world's underbelly- the thick Tartarian ooze of men and women, all vibrating in tune with the lesser frequency of the fallen realm, and weaned on the succulent lymph of the poisonous Kali herself; all detached and spinning wildly to and fro in the depths of the descending plane of living apparitions and unascending souls, where the minions of dark angels and their grey carnival of false delights invoked the ghoulish laughter of Hell and its ineffective respites.
It was a bar unlike any other bar, a place where all were welcome because- as Hans pointed out to me on one of his infrequent visits to Vancouver, while sitting in the Ivanhoe one evening amongst the multitude of mutants- “Everyone is welcome in Hell.”
And yet it was not the Hell of eternal damnation, it was a chosen hell for most. A Hell, in fact, in which those people found their peace and acceptance, away from the other Hell, which existed everywhere else. The Ivanhoe was an oasis- absent of the real and living water perhaps- but an oasis with its own inexhaustible well of draft and rift-rafts nonetheless.
Every manner of individual would happen in at one time or another. It was a culture of captives who had lost all thought of escape or emancipation and had learned to sing and play and fight in a world which was an imperfect, despairing, disastrous world, a blissless world of exile and hopelessness, but a world after all, and, more importantly, it was their world. And boy would they ever whirl up a hoot and a holler and a celebration of the unavoidable Armageddon being perversely drawn out in the collective menagerie of those purgatorial homecomings brought about every day and night under the surface of a sea which none of them knew they were drowning in.
The mutant enclave from the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall, would be as good a visual as I could paint from this scene.
Gathered together were bums and charlatans, hippies and crack-heads, retirees, natives, travellers, businessmen, students, dropouts, homeless beggars, mystics, whores, laymen, soldiers, vagabonds, pushers, and renegades, all and everyone, no one left out, no one denied, no one judged because all were judged, no one condemned because all were condemned. A crowd of thieves dangling from their crosses and not a messiah in sight to be traded for them. ...
Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books: THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
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