VANCOUVER

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

Planet Bingo

Planet Bingo

Planet Bingo is not a Planet, it’s a fucking universe. A huge and multi-leveled, self contained universe with its very own bus stop, convenience store to supply the Bingo pros with their wares, its own fleet of cabs waiting outside to whisk winners away to the nearest Wal-Mart and its own restaurant called the Galaxy Grill. Which is exactly why I landed on Planet Bingo one Friday night. Who knew that I would barely make it out alive.

If I was going to properly assess Planet Bingo, I needed to seamlessly blend in with the environment there. Obviously, then, I would have to play a few games of Bingo, and you can’t play Bingo without a “dabber”. So, despite being lured by the gravitational pull of the planetary imagery of Planet Bingo’s marquee sign outside, I went to the store just to the left of the entrance to choose my dabber first. I needed something that conveyed a sense of my personality and love of food, something that would bring me good luck, something that the ladies would like and, of course, something that would take me to the jackpot of riches I found myself dreaming about on the bus ride over. I immediately fell in love with an Elvis dabber loaded with green ink that was actually signed by Elvis Presley himself. There were hundreds, probably thousands to choose from, but tonight, the King and I would be taking care of business.

Planet Bingo

Planet Bingo is a strange place, unlike any I have ever visited. The inhabitants are mostly women in their mid to late 60’s. Except for the steady and droning voice of the caller putting everyone under the spell of a letter and number mantra, the place was unsettlingly quiet. The atmosphere in the cordoned off smoking area was most agreeable to my own natural habitat, so that’s where I decided to setup and conduct my experiments. “B23. Two, three. N14. One, four. G16. One, six.” It went on and on while I scoped out the Galaxy Grill and set down my recently purchased set of five Bingo cards ($2.50), my Elvis “The King” Presley dabber and a half-litre coffee cup filled with my favorite Pinot, which instantly transformed Planet Bingo into Vancouver’s only bar that you can smoke in. This mixed with Planet Bingo’s other worldly grid of circular ceiling lights, along with its faded and quite filthy carpet covered with an exploding fireworks print, had me thinking that I had found a new home amongst the stars.

I was starving and wasted no time getting in line at the Galaxy Grill, where a typical fare of burgers, hot dogs and toasted sandwiches were being offered at reasonable prices. I settled on the Galaxy Burger for $6.75, but before I could finish describing with maniacal excitement how I wanted my onions fried, I was interrupted by the counter help and informed that the kitchen was closed. Closed!? This was unacceptable. I told the woman that I had checked the Planet Bingo website and it had said food was available until 11:30pm, and that I had traveled a great distance in my spaceship (the #3 Main) to sample the wonders of the Galaxy Grill. “I know, I’m sorry, but we only have one cook, and she started too early today,” was the only explanation that was offered. I walked back to my empty Bingo cards and Elvis dabber to sip my contraband Pinot in melancholic confusion.

Your Only Magazine Food & Drink Columnist would not give up that easily though! Slightly pissed now on a half litre of wine, I returned to the lineup at the Galaxy Grill, with my eye on a disgusting looking slice of pizza that sat beneath a tired looking heat lamp I had not noticed upon my first visit. It was the last slice, and as each person ahead of me ordered pops, chips and slices of pie, I gripped my fists in fear that my pizza would be sampled by someone else. I got down to the last woman ahead of me, and of course she just had to get the fucking pizza. I began to put plan B into action which involved carrot cake and beef jerky, when a lovely twist of fate arrived in the form of her being so unimpressed with the pizza she instead got a muffin.

The Smile Restaurant on Pender Street

There I was, back in the smoking section of Planet Bingo, happily consuming my stale hand-me-down pizza (which was surprisingly good) paired with a diet soda and bag of salt and vinegar chips, trying to keep up with the task of dabbing out the letter and number combinations on game 2 of my five game booklet purchased earlier on. The games move along very quickly, and as I took stock of the inhabitants of Planet Bingo I could tell that the attraction of Bingo for them must be that it allows little time to think about anything other than the repetitive function of dabbing out the numbers called out by the caller. The very large half-man-half-woman seated beside me — maneuvering her white poodle dabber with a robotic finesse — was all too eager to help me out with the game, not to mention the disposal of my used Bingo sheets. I found the people of Planet Bingo to be of a lonely sort, and seeing as how alcohol was forbidden there, probably recovering boozers.

There is nothing like the collective sigh that emanates from over 100 losers in a very quiet room when someone reaches Bingo other than them. Imagine, then, the glory of victory as the winner gets to walk towards the winners circle to collect cash. Perhaps the looks on the faces of the winners were too intoxicating for me, or I was just plain too intoxicated, but towards the end of game four, much to my amazement, while stuffing potato chips into my face, I connected five dabs of green ink dispensed from the King of Rock N’ Roll himself on my game card, which caused me to break the concentrated silence of Planet Bingo with an all too enthusiastic call of, “Bingo!” I am pretty sure I high-fived a couple old ladies while making my way to the front of the room to have my card verified. Quickly though, I realized the horror of my error when I was informed that in order to win this game, my dabs needed to connect in the shape of an X. A fucking X! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could the inhabitants of Planet Bingo as the call came out over the loud speaker, “We have a false Bingo. I repeat, we have a false Bingo.” Which threw Planet Bingo into anger and panic as everyone went fishing into the garbage to get back their disposed game cards.

The sweet and friendly inhabitants of Planet Bingo had now turned hostile. There was much finger pointing and head shaking. Maybe it was my own paranoia heightened by my idiocy, but they seemed to be focusing on the illegal contents of my coffee cup. I imagined a cacophony of old hags devouring my flesh and destroying my coveted Elvis dabber. I decided it was time to escape Planet Bingo, and as I told my bus driver to hit warp speed I watched Planet Bingo shrink smaller and smaller behind me, still poor, quite drunk, sickeningly full, but most importantly, still breathing.

  1. Baron von Poopypants

    A food review? At a bingo hall?!

    For Christ’s sake, that’s like doing movie reviews for movies that came out in 1997 – not great movies that everyone should see, but movies like the Peacemaker, that are forgettable and will not be sought out by a single person as a result of the review. It’s like Car & Driver running a four page spread today on a 2003 Toyota Camry with a dented side panel.

    Who the fuck is going to go to a shitty bingo canteen to eat? Sure, Planet Bingo is a neat place, but to go there with the specific intent to eat? No one. This review is pointless as a culinary review.

    I think it was in the last millennium when Robert Dayton did a three-part series on Prime Time Chicken. That was funny (the first time). That was ironic (the first time). That was over the top (the first time). He scooped you, David Look, so stop with the slumming. It’s not funny, it’s not ironic, it’s not worth anyone’s time. The people at these places are POOR, dude – stop appropriating their identity.

    Sure, your bank account may be low – so is mine – but we are rich in cultural capital. We can see them for the “other” and write funny articles about how eating their food gives one diarreah. They can’t. That shit is real for these people, not some type of ironic joke. People who read Only won’t ever eat at Planet Bingo, although they might if they hit up the bingo games, so what’s the point of taking us there? There are plenty of places that the readers of this column could be served by a review, please go to them.

    - Jan 7, 05:34 PM

  2. the lover

    who is robert dayton? if this stuff isn’t worth your time maybe you should quite wasting it with 600 word essays in the comments section

    - Jan 7, 06:17 PM

  3. M

    Yeah, I want to be righteous too! Sign me up poopypants…or should I say coolier than thou?

    - Jan 7, 06:26 PM

  4. SOMEONE FOR WHOM THIS SHIT IS REAL

    HELP MY IDENTITY IS BEING APPROPRIATED PLEASE OH GOD SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING.

    - Jan 7, 06:48 PM

  5. /b/

    Funny how nobody writes 600 word essays with any sort of intelligent arguments in response to señor poopy-coolier.

    SHOOP DA WHOOP!

    - Jan 7, 09:56 PM

  6. Golf Rock Cokehead

    BEEN THERE BOUT FOUR YEARS AGO SAW SOME OLD BAGS DUNKIN SEASONED FRIES INTO SOME NACHO CHEESE WITH ONE HAND AND YOU GUESSED IT SMOKIN A BENSON AND HEDGES MENTHOL WITH THE OTHER. I NEVER WENT BACK THAT PLACE SUCKS FAR MORE ENTERTAINING TO HIT UP A SECOND RATE CASINO SINCE IF YOU WANT WHATEVER THE SHIT IS 24 HRS YOU NEED A CONEY ISLAND DOG? SHIET JUST GET IT DUDE YOU CAN EAT A BUFFET AND PLAT NICKEL SLOTS TIL WHENEV’S.

    - Jan 7, 11:11 PM

  7. Baron von Poopypants

    1) Yes – Poopypants is the same as Coolier…, I just like to put different funny stuff as a name as I am not big into developing a static on-line identity.

    2) Bob Dayton is a terrible human being, but a valuable contributor to Vancouver’s cultural identity (sorry, Rob). He wrote a three-part series on Prime Time Chicken in another independent Vancouver magazine a few years back. It was funny, because a) no one was ironically exploring the dives as is du jour today and b) he reviewed the same restaurant three times in a row.

    3) Sorry for writing long comments, it’s just that I think that ideas and opinions are best expressed through well-thought out arguments rather than quick snotty comments – I know that this isn’t generally welcomed in the virtual world and I apologize, but I just can’t help myself.

    4) Cultural appropriation is something that we who do it (I’ve been guilty plenty of times) should be, at a minimum, aware of what we are doing. When you start bringing hip kids into the Balmoral to “party in the ghetto”, you start to force the regulars out. If it is yuppies in condos, we call it gentrification, when it’s hipsters invading dumps, we see it differently for some reason, even though the outcome is the same. The yuppies are running out of places to live, same as the hip kids are running out of places to party. One is apparently an excuse, the other a reason. Both will change the lives of poor people.

    - Jan 7, 11:13 PM

  8. Kookoo

    I’ve seen David Look before and he looks pretty old to me.

    - Jan 8, 01:45 AM

  9. PERSON

    everytime I read only magazine now adays I feel like I just wasted my time

    - Jan 8, 02:59 AM

  10. lux

    david look is a total asshole

    - Jan 8, 03:29 AM

  11. Scott PM

    Baron von etc.:

    I haven’t seen that Robert Dayton piece, but namedropping him (in service of the claim that this kind of thing was funny five years ago, no less) makes you sound an awful lot like…. a HIPSTER! J’accuse! It all makes sense to me now. Your compulsive dumping on this column as hipster-service is a projection of your own class anxiety, as indicated by your extreme sensitivity to anyone patronizing (<—- pun!) establishments outside of their designated socio-economic milieu. This also explains the absurd equivocation you make between drinking at a bar or eating at a restaurant, and having a place to live. “Poor” is not a culture; eating where poor people eat isn’t going to violate the Prime Directive. But hey, I’m not a scientist, what do I know.

    Anyway, I love that these articles have so bonus funny shit in the comments! See you all next Monday!

    - Jan 8, 03:36 AM

  12. Nacho Libre

    What the fuck are you people talking about?
    Bingo is for losers.
    Wrestling? Now we are talking cool! Get with the program.
    If I see David Look I am going to put him in the Camel Clutch.

    - Nacho

    - Jan 8, 07:09 AM

  13. Blood Cells

    Will all of you pussies shut the hell up and enjoy a god damn laugh once in a while? How can you not find this article absolute entertainment?

    Dine out is coming soon, maybe you should post your own on Craig’s list and hope in hell that someone would actually read your lame ass bullshit.
    I know I won’t.

    until next week…

    - Jan 9, 07:58 AM

  14. Baron von Poopypants

    I love you too, ScottPM.

    I’m not a hipster. I’m a nerd.

    Like, I’ve never had a one night stand, or done coke, and I want to correct you on your French grammar (je t’accuse, would actually accuse me, whereas your “j’accuse” just says that you accuse something/one), and I can’t bring myself to wearing my hoodie with the hood up or wear those skintight jeans. I don’t “get” Chromeo or Spank Rock (but strangely, I still find Weird Al entertaining), I think dirty south hip hop is weak, while late ’90’s New York is off the hook. I wake up at 6:30 each morning and am in bed well before midnight. I didn’t go to Emily Carr, and I haven’t been to an art opening all year. I drink the cheapest beer instead of the most ironic (although they are often the same one). Never had a beard, or a moustache.

    Not a computer nerd, or a comic book nerd, I’m just not down with the scene. My friends wear khakis and own homes in Coquitlam. So, yeah, not a hipster (unfortunately).

    - Jan 9, 07:00 PM

  15. junior

    food and drink sucks
    I used to read it to find out where good cheap places to eat where but recently it’s become a “where’s the most disgusting place I can eat” column, like it used to be “hey, we should eat at blah blah blah place” than like “oh yeah? I always walk past that place?” and now it’s a “hey man let’s go eat the rubber crap out of a creepy crawler”
    like I don’t mind the article it’s self being funny but like eatting at carnagie hall is just plain retarded

    - Jan 9, 09:03 PM

  16. Logan Sturrock

    Hey essay boy(s),

    “I think it was in the last millennium when Robert Dayton did a three-part series on Prime Time Chicken”

    WRONG!
    Tommy LaCroix, not Dayton.

    Carnegie 1 – You 0

    - Jan 11, 02:41 AM

  17. cam

    this collumn sucks. you should be reviewing places where people might actually want to go instead of championing the atmosphere of the carnegie hall cafeteria or the restaurant inside fucking planet bingo. this collumn doesn’t really do much for anyone and its not even funny anymore

    - Jan 11, 04:57 AM

  18. Robert Dayton

    Nothing sadder than sitting around googling yerself in yer housecoat as some sort of self sabotaging looking for the heels of Achilles. Then I find this. Anyhaha, for the record I never wrote Prime Time Chicken reviews tho I did illustrate one or two…I’ve done some restaurant reviews here and there… but basically when I was co-editor/co-creator of the shortlived Drippy Gazette (shortlived? we failed first rule of Marketing 101: don’t market to misfits or to the ‘everyone’ bracket) I got Tommy Lacroix to do a dining column called “EATING/OUT”…Tommy decided to have every column be about Prime Time Chicken, we must have printed five before we went under. Tommy told me that he had eight more written- all about Prime Time Chicken. Tommy is brilliant, he did these great minis called Carousel filled with his writings, drawings, and intensely elaborate kittycat/porno collages. Some of his work-including The Prime Time columns- has been collected in the Nog A Dod book, edited by Marc Bell and published by the excellent PictureBox. It’s a good document of some of the art being made in the 90’s Couve et al. We weren’t thinking we were a scene per se, no membership lists or matching jackets, but Marc has post-haste added the snazzy signifier “West Coast Psychedoodlia” as a signifier. Lucky’s should have it because Lucky’s is amazing. Anyhoo name dropping me makes one a hipster? I wish it were so! I’d love to get my hands on some that hipster cash! Gimme those hipster dollars! I’m broke and unmarketable (no niche)! In past I’ve even resorted to mascot work! seriously! I was once Captain Bingo (foam muscles) for the Starship Bingo Hall! I’ll tell you about it sometime but I got more googling to do….

    - Jan 18, 01:56 AM

  19. Robert Dayton

    pee ess: dunno who was first to do lo-rent restaurant reviews but in early 70’s (app.) Robot A. Hull and Richard Meltzer were definitely exploring those options so it goes wayyy back…If you can find Melter’s collection Gulcher which has a delicious gary Panter cover grab it fast, it may be out of print.

    double pee ess to Le Baron: am I ‘bad man’? Is that a moral judgement? Heh, I’ve sure been reckless. If I need should do some amending with you, feel free to let me know…

    - Jan 18, 11:27 PM

  20. Baron von Poopypants

    Yes, Robert, it is a moral (criminal?) judgement – based on the experiences some female friends of mine had with you, as well as dozens of other stories I’ve heard through the grapevine which confirm their experiences.

    My own experiences with you have been pretty positive. I think you write funny stuff and your experience and history is useful in the ever changing world of “what’s cool this minute”. But you are still a lech and don’t take the hint when you should back off in your drunken pursuit of a lay.

    Yes, you are bad man.

    - Jan 18, 11:53 PM

  21. Robert Dayton

    Actually I took the hint. I haven’t had a drink in almost two years and I have a really amazing girlfriend. People knew when I was drinking so i don’t make it a secret that I don’t. I had to stop. It’s pretty obvious why I quit, ie. my behaviours when I drank amongst other things. I try to do my best, I ain’t perfect, I mess up, but I’m working on trying to be as much a positive force as I can be on this lil planet. Contact me off this page and I will personally apologize to anyone I have harmed or bothered, etc. Honestly. If you could do this for me I’d really appreciate it. I had alot of blackouts where I totally lost control so I don’t even know what some of those actions were. I owe it to those people. If they don’t want to hear from me, well, even if a message is passed to them, I truly am sorry.

    - Jan 19, 02:36 AM

  22. PantyLady

    Don’t worry Robert, he just hurts because your dick is so big.

    - Jan 19, 03:44 AM

  23. Not French

    Poopypants,

    Obviously, I will need to translate to hipsterese for you.

    “J’accuse” is a common term (even in French) that means “I call bullshit.” It gets its power from a newspaper article by Emile Zola over the Dreyfuss affair accusing the French government of anti-semitism.

    It’s not a rare phrase.

    - Jan 29, 01:29 PM

  24. Baron von Poopypants

    Thank you for that.

    I don’t believe in this phrase “I call bullshit”. What ever happened to saying just, “bullshit”?

    That’s bullshit. Bullshit! Fucking bullshit! all are good phrases. “I call bullshit” sounds like you’re trying to get someone involved in a duel, or start a red rover kind of game. It’s for nerds who bow and say m’lady in a jesty, but ultimately serious kind of way.

    - Jan 29, 05:24 PM

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