The Generation X City?

SK8 Park

Having read jPod this week, and seeing in it a reference to “Generation K”, I found myself on wikipedia reading the articles on various generations (lamentably nothing about any “Generation K”), and revisiting the ever-growing article on Generation X.

In reference to Coupland’s seminal novel on the topic, the article now has a section which mentions that Generation X is a particularly relevant concept in Vancouver, where the incomprehensible real estate prices and sudden flood of foreign labour made the gap between the lives of Baby Boomers and those who came along afterward especially obvious.

I’d never really thought about it. I mean, I’ve read Generation X, being that Coupland chose California as its setting, it seems one of his least Vancouver-anchored works. But when you look at the environment in which it was written makes Vancouver seem like just about the most Gen X place on the planet, almost to the point of being a stereotype in itself:

  • The aforementioned real estate issue almost goes without saying. In addition to causing friction between Gen-Xers whose parents insist they should move out and buy a house “like normal people,” housing prices have also contributed significantly to the apartment-dwelling multiple-roommate perception of the X Generation, for those who don’t still live with their parents, that is.
  • Vancouver is the largest video game development centre in Canada [New Media BC] and one of the larger ones in North America.
  • Vancouver ostensibly has more public skateparks than any other city on the planet (over 40 in the GVRD, according to this recent Georgia Straight article). The sheer number of late 20- and 30-something skateboard commuters rolling down Granville Street at 5 o’clock on a weekday is pretty startling to anyone who grew up elsewhere.
  • Lots and lots of recreational drug use. Not saying it’s a trait which doesn’t belong to other generation groups as well, but it definitely carries a strong association with Gen X.
  • Whistler is consistently ranked amongst the very top snowboard destinations in the world [Tourism Whistler]. And Cypress Mountain has been selected as the snowboard event location for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
  • Vancouverites typically boast that Vancouver (unsubstiantiated but believably) has the highest restaurants per capita in Canada, and has a number matched only by New York in all of North America. Plenty of McJobs, among other things.

Anything else I’m missing? There are all those other attributes associated with Generation X that aren’t particularly measurable or specific to any one city or place, but from a general Gen X look and feel perspective, you can’t get much more spot on, it seems. . . .

(And I still have no idea what that “Generation K” reference was all about. A typo? An editing error? Or a wily experiment by Coupland to find out just how potent his generation-naming powers are?)

1 Comment so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on August 25th, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

    And yes, I just realized that four out of my last five posts’ titles end in question marks. I’m not sure what this means.



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