Sometimes it smells like piss down here on the Downtown Eastside. The traditional home of the disenfranchised, the dysfunctional, the disabled, the displaced, the disturbed, the discouraged. But it's changing. New waves of immigrants arrive daily on the meanstreets around Main and Hastings. (Pain and Wastings.) Hipster beardos, tattooed (and tattoo) artists, risky restauranteurs, artisanal-locally-sourced-one-of-a-kind shopkeepers are racing to revel in the edgy edginess and historical residue of this oldest part of town. It's starting to feel like a proper world class city down here. A cross cultured, socio-economic zoo, the gaps filled with grime and grim. I like it because it reminds me of Africa. Rich and poor sharing the street corners. Addicts and supermodels and Indians and actors all buy smokes at the same convenience store. People sell their shit on the street. Jazzercise VHS tapes and expired cans of tuna and cell phone chargers and used sweatpants. It's impossible to walk a block without being asked for money or offered drugs. Everyday is survival. For everyone. But amongst the awful, there's always awe. Pick a back alley, any of them. You're guaranteed to find skilled needle work and blow-jobs in action, liberated shopping carts, smells smashed out of broken bottles and garbage bins, all colour coded by graffiti in a juxtaposition of beauty and terror. Each back route's a bizarre art gallery stocked by abandoned articles of life and death - and a lot of limbo - curated by chaos. The walls are concrete canvases, painted by experience, lining hopeful shortcuts to easy street - or at least an easier street.