by Geoff Olson

“Vancouver restaurant owners are mounting a call for more courtesy from customers, citing an increasing number of people making reservations, but then not showing up.” – CBC News

Greetings! Welcome to L’Abuse on Cambie. You’ve had this coming for a long time, Vancouverite: an exclusive restaurant that pairs world-class cooking with extraordinarily abusive service.

Allow us to explain. L’Abuse on Cambie is more than a high-end dining destination: it’s an existential dare with a wine cellar. Just as there is no gain without pain, there is no grain-fed Angus beef or foie gras without some distress, starting with the cow and goose. We’re just paying it forward. To you, the notorious breaker of dinner reservations in Vancouver.

This is our credo: the volatile chef, condescending waiter, and snooty sommelier shouldn’t be dismissed as New Yorker cartoon clichés, but celebrated as rich, real-life embodiments of the Basil Fawlty archetype.

Survivors of natural and unnatural disasters often find themselves transformed for the better. We think personal-growth-through-trauma fits nicely with fine dining. We call it “sado-mastication.”

Do we detect a note of skepticism? Perhaps you’re working at a job you hate, just to subsidize a place so small your area rug is a welcome mat. At the end of the day do you really want to tackle the city’s infamously congested streets just to partake in an expensive meal in an unsafe space?

Yes you do, you insufferable little twerp. And don’t mistake us for a breakfast café offering a daisy chain of double entrendres from comically bitchy gay waiters. All our servers, both straight and LGBLT (Lesbian Gay Bacon Lettuce Tomato), are schooled in both the Marquis de Sade School of Improv and the Myers-Briggs personality test. An initially cheery exchange over the menu will kick off your psychological profiling. Once we have identified the chinks in your character armour, we will pour hot coffee into them – figuratively speaking.

You and your dinner companion(s) will be emotionally deconstructed during a fabulous full course dinner. We will respect your boundaries – at least up until dessert, when the gloves really come off. (Our servers are expert at mixed martial arts and declassified RCMP interrogation techniques.)

If this does not sound like your cup of yerba mate, by all means trundle off to another surprise-free meal at Chambar or Le Crocodile. Pick away at your predictable fusion cuisine while secretly wishing you had cancelled your reservation, or just not shown up. Another missed opportunity: you could have been culinary BASE jumping at L’Abuse!

Still have doubts? Why would any sane foodie sign up for a restaurant initiation that begins with a slap on the face from the hostess, you ask? Surely not just for the meals, even if the entrées are extraordinarily sophisticated, impressively priced, and creatively presented with a sprig of something newly discovered by ethnobotanists!

Truth be told, it’s all about status. Fine dining always comes with a side dish of snobbery, n’est pas? This is your chance to prove to yourself and others you’ve got the right stuffing. All but the bravest foodies will flee to CinCin when they discover L’Abuse’s rough-hewn tables (made out of old growth wood recovered from demolished Vancouver heritage homes) can be bolted upright as après–smackdown stockades.

That said, here at L’abuse we respect the safety and security of all patrons. Before reserving a table, you and your dinner companions must fill out an online application form and supply a urine sample by post. Once approved, your party will be required to sign waivers at the door.

Will our in-your-face, on-your-lap dining experience make you or break you? Will we honour your food sensitivity or allergy? Is that a fly in the gazpacho? Are we really playing a Kenny G/Kraftwerk mashup over Marshall amps? What’s with the ammonia smell from the lukewarm Chardonnay?

All lingering questions will vanish from your mind during a kitchen tour featuring our iconic Trial by Grease Fire™, which includes a complimentary Mojito and gauze wrap.

L’Abuse looks forward to giving you the business, but please note: the waiting list now extends into 2018 for our five-scar restaurant. So if you’re a no-show next year, you only have yourself to flambe. Worm.

The Vancouver Courier, Feb. 23


by Geoff Olson

A Vancouver yoga studio recently declared it’s space a Trump-free zone. Julie Peters, owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga, posted a sign that reads, “If possible, please avoid talking about the news while in the studio. Discussing feelings and reactions is fine, but please avoid talking about new information or details.”

“If you want to bring something up with someone, ask permission first. Be aware of who you may be accidentally including in our small space,” the sign continues.
Peters told the CBC she has a case of “Trumpitis” from reading news of the man’s misadventures, resulting in “nausea and heart palpitations.”

I can sympathize. I caught the brain virus on July 16, 2015, the day the citrus-skinned conman announced his presidential candidacy. From then on, I’ve been unhealthily but understandably obsessed with him and his minions.

I work in the media after all. As a cartoonist, I’ve been inflamed by the comic possibilities, laughing all the way to the drafting table. But no way could a former reality TV star beat the other Republican nominees, I figured.

Then it happened. He won the ticket.

The schoolyard bully’s first victory took me from stage 1 to stage 3 illness. People who love me – friends and family who might have gathered for an intervention –  were also now infected by Trumpitis. They couldn’t shut up about him either.

But we all knew we’d recover soon, didn’t we? By November 8 it would be all over for the self-branded shyster. Warmonger Hillary would pluck the big brass ring from the executive branch and her opponent would shuffle back to Mar-a-Lago with his trophy family and truth-trashing sycophants – just like The New York Times and all the other serious media outlets told us, after giving the man free campaign advertising through endless analysis. We’d return to talking about the weather and the Kardashians.

Then it happened. He won the election.

I felt like the character Arthur Dent in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, after he learns that the Earth is about to be demolished for a hyperspace expressway. The tag line of the comic sci-fi trilogy is “Don’t Panic.” But now seemed to be an excellent time for panicking.

Months earlier, Trumpitis had infected every TV channel, Twitter feed, newspaper outlet, and piehole. But surely the outbreak source wouldn’t make it to the actual inauguration, what with sexual harassment claims and dozens of active lawsuits against him. Trump would be indicted before he had a chance to swear on a copy of Art of the Deal. Or slip on a CIA-poisoned banana peel.

Then it happened. He was sworn in.

Watching the televised train-wreck commence on January 20th, I felt like Arthur Dent when he learns that the Earth is actually a giant computer designed by mice.
The frenemy of Obama and Omarosa stood across from Supreme Court Justice Roberts, who somehow managed to recite the oath of office without collapsing from laughter.

“Repeat after me: I, Donald J. Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States of America.”

“I, Donald J. Trump do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute Rosie O’Donnell, Alec Baldwin, and Meryl Streep.”

Ah, what fun I was having now with the oaf of office! With perhaps four more years to work a coal mine of political humour down to Earth’s core – or at least up until my rendering to a Trump/O’Leary Reedumacation Camp.

So here we are. Every day brings us another twisted tweet, alternative fact, or execrable order from on high. Our Arthur Dent planet was blown to smithereens last month, but not before we were all teleported to DC Comic’s Bizarro World, where everything is said and done backwards.

The other day, delirious from Trumpitis, I tried to distract myself with some music. My iPod, set on shuffle, perversely offered up Haydn’s TRUMPet Concerto #1. I tore off the headphones only to hear footsteps of the mailman outside. Trump trump trump trump.

And yoga? I fall sideways onto the mat every time I attempt downward dog. My misaligned chakras sit like a stack of broken crockery. The satirist in me feels outstretched by reality and the rationalist in me feels bent out of shape.

It’s gonna get nastier before it gets Namastier.

The Vancouver Courier, Feb. 9