I misunderstood ‘stunt journalism’ and wrote this article while skateboarding on hostile architecture

These middle rails on the benches make it look like you’re sexless Puritans, but we all know what these are really for. Deadbeat Gary

Stunt journalism, the practice of risking some facet of your own body or mind in order to write a story, is a big part of what we do here at NICE. This usually refers to stories such as trying to live in the Nest for a year or going undercover as a Charleton journalism student. However, nobody ever bothered to explain this to me. Last week, someone suggested that I think of an attractive piece of stunt journalism to highlight an important issue.

Vancouver has several architectural features that are antagonistic towards unhoused members of the community. These measures are usually implemented to prevent people from sleeping in public spaces, such as outside of stores or on park benches. Before anyone told me that stunt journalism did not actually involve performing real stunts, I ventured out with my skateboard onto the streets of Vancouver, mic’d up and ready to illustrate the inhumanity of hostile architecture. This is the transcript from my reporting.

“Alright, I’m out here on Cambie and I’ve spotted this fucked-looking bench that was installed by the city and is supposedly an ‘art installation’... here we go…”

(skateboarding sounds)

“Mmm, shit shit BLECHGG!”

(flesh slaps concrete)

“FUCK. Okay, that was fucked. That was fucked. Point made. I could not grind this bench ­­— ahhhh, fuck — nobody could sit here, much less sleep here. Are people shopping here at night? No. So why is this here?”

Next, I attempted to hippie jump over one of the benches outside City Hall, dried blood ornamenting my gashed elbow.

“City Hall, everyone… paragon of civic reliability. These middle rails on the benches make it look like you’re sexless Puritans, but we all know what these are really for. I’m gonna get a little bit of a run up and then jump onto the bench while the board rolls under and try to get back on, and we know exactly how that’ll pan out. Alright, alright…”

(skateboard sounds, concerned onlookers stop to watch)

“Oh, fuck, oh man, I’m not good enough to — fuck, AHH fuck!”

(crunching sounds, gasp from the crowd)

“I tripped over the middle rail, ahh, fucking ass. I barely know how to skateboard, what — what am I doing out here?”

I went home and wrote this article, confident that it has conveyed my point about both the inhumane nature of hostile architecture and the danger of hostile urban planning. Furthermore, I resign my position at this magazine, as I have found the lifestyle to be incompatible with my physical well-being. ☺

This article is part of The Ubyssey’s 2021 spoof issue, NICE Magazine.