photos: James sells Megaphone at 8th and Cambie in front of Whole Foods. Photo: Jackie Wong.

Meet James Clark, walking on the sunny side of the street

James sells Megaphone at 8th and Cambie in Vancouver in front of Whole Foods Market.

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“I’m from New Brunswick. When I was 15, my dad kicked me in the ass and threw me out, and I hitchiked out here and I never went back. I like Vancouver. Plus my kids are here. In my area, where I sell Megaphone, it’s about talking to the people. People are friendly down there.

“I’ve been with Megaphone for I think three years. I was collecting change at 8th and Cambie, since Whole Foods opened. I became a vendor because I was watching other people do it. I was watchingRon do it, and I was watching him sell the calendars. And then I was watching Onawa, she used to be around there. And Sid. That’s how I met Sid—he was bugging me to sell Megaphone for a long time. [Editor’s note: Sid Bristow was a longtime Megaphone vendor at Broadway and Cambie who has since moved forward with new employment]. We’ve been friends ever since. I have breakfast twice a week with Sid.

“I’ve lived in the same apartment for 46 years. I live on 6th Avenue in Mount Pleasant. BC Housing. The psychologist I see, he’s the one who got me my apartment because I had a brain injury. I was in GF Strong for four years. It’s a rehabilitation centre up on Oak Street.

“The brain injury is from when I was run over by a car by the Granville Bridge. I went through a front car window. I was four years in the hospital. I was in my early twenties, I think. Now, I’m up there! Past the 60s.

“I’ve done a lot of jobs. Now I can’t do as much physical work because of my injuries. I moved furniture for almost 30 years all over Canada, all through the States.

“I sold teddy bears in Vancouver. I’d sell all through the cabarets and the bars and everywhere. And then, overnight, it was gone. They brought these money machines in. And the machines with the claws stole all the business!

“I’m also a famous fire juggler. I have three degrees in fire! I used to go to Seattle to do it on weekends and stay three weeks at a time. The money was way up there. I would do it here in Vancouver at English Bay on my stilts. I taught people how to do stilts in the East End free of charge. They all had to dress up in a clown outfit.

“I lost almost all of my Whole Foods customers when I was in another accident. I was on my way down to sell my calendars in October, just about two years ago. At about 12 o’clock noon, a woman just drove her truck right into me at the Kingsgate Mall. She got me on my side. There’s a truck mark on my scooter.

“So it twisted me. The people at GF Strong say I have a lifetime history of pain now. It just takes seconds to get you. They want me to take Oxycotin 80 for the rest of my life. I don’t want to. I hate pills.

“Now, I’m trying to build up my customer base again. I like getting out and I like selling Megaphone. In my corner, I talk to a lot of people. Lots of people bring out nice food from Whole Foods. A $12 roast beef sandwich, they just melt in your mouth, they’re so good.

“And I talk to a lot of stars. I talked to Steven Seagal the other day. And I saw Shania Twain in there when she was in town. Elton John gave me $100 once when I was collecting change. All the celebrities go to Whole Foods.

“Getting out there and talking to people makes them happy. And it makes me happy. Because I have a lot of pain, I have to do stuff that makes me happy.”

 

James sells Megaphone at 8th and Cambie in Vancouver in front of Whole Foods Market.

 

Get on your megaphone

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