As part of Eighty Six Forever's countdown to our 1,000th Twitter follower, we mulled what could possibly be a worthy prize for such a landmark. After some brainstorming, light discussion, intense debate and a wild drinking session to which I was not invited, we (by which I mean me, the still sober one) came up with a fitting prize: a truly epic (and very fake) biography, written by yours truly, as an instalment of This Just In.
Oh, and also a Whitecaps scarf. Y'know, just for appearances and whatnot. But mostly the bio.
So, without further ado, sit back and learn about our winner, Justin Caron.
The Life and Times of Justin Caron
Our story begins like all good stories don't in 1987. It was a rough year for humanity, what with storms, wars and babies falling down wells and all. Having experienced all that nonsense by way of reading about it in a newspaper, Justin's parents decide that life is just too frail and fleeting to waste alone, with only their free time and disposable income to motivate them. Thus, a few months later in the much improved year of 1988 - the Seoul Olympics! Iran-Contra! - Regina, Saskatchewan welcomed the arrival of baby Justin into the world. His parents would later reflect on how Justin's birth was the single most exciting thing to ever happen in Regina and, quite possibly, Saskatchewan - excepting, of course, any Roughriders game. You do not mess with the Regina Rugby Club.
Young Justin had the typical Saskatchewan upbringing: surviving the cruel, godless, unforgiving winters; savouring the genteel prairie springs; begging for mercy from the unrepentant heat emanating from the unyielding summer sun; and finding quiet solace in the picturesque week that makes up autumn. When he wasn't chasing his peers through endless rows of wheat and corn, he was sleeping, since those are literally the only two activities for Saskatchewan youth. Such mind-numbing stupor could easily break the lesser of minds, child and adult alike. Justin, however, was (and is) no lesser mind. Rather than accept a life of staring at corn stalks and wheat fields, the young Caron bolstered himself with vivid sessions of imagination, filling his mind with thoughts of strange activities and make-believe foods a hundred times better than anything he'd done before. Sporklewangle pies! Roller-hoop-a-go-mo-bos! Going to away games with the Roughriders on a stealth thirty-horse sky-caravan, sipping on moon juice and noshing on merry-froop bars!
When it became clear to Justin's parents that he was exhibiting signs of imagination, they knew it was only a matter of time before he'd outgrow the confines of the prairies. Imagination, much like intelligence, ingenuity and other fancy words beginning with "i" requires a container to hold it; a vessel for all that mental talent to flow into and be shaped. By virtue of physics, flat objects (like, say, kilometre after kilometre of prairie) tend to be less effective in this regard than objects with pits, bumps, holes, ridges, walls and so forth (like, say, mountains or valleys or venti-sized coffee cups). Once Justin finally caught wind of a place with such things - a place his peers and parents referred to as "damn hippie country" - he knew it was time to trade in his imaginary meals of yuubuuwumm delivered on a six-wheeled jirishaw for the real thing. After fifteen years of contained creativity, Justin Caron arrived in Vancouver to let his talents pour free.
Well, "free" in the figurative sense, that is. Once he'd burned out his life savings on a month's rent in Yaletown, Justin realized that he'd need to start earning money and fast if he wanted to keep experiencing the sweet pleasures of the west coast. Living in a wonderland where all the crazy foods he'd dreamed up actually existed - though here they used even stranger names like "pineapple", "blackberry", "sushi" and "japadog" - was not something Justin was keen to relinquish. Luckily, nearly two decades of pulling ideas from nothing meant he had a leg up on your average Emily Carr University graduate and he quickly found success as a web designer. A brief side venture, however, did not take off as it turned out Justin's ten-year-old designs for "waka-woolo-wheels" were actually recumbent bicycles. Coincidence, or prophetic talent gone to waste? You be the judge. (Hint: it's the latter.)
When he's not allowing his long-neglected creative spark to set Vancouver ablaze, Justin finds great joy in cruising Vancouver's iconic Stanley Park seawall from atop what we call a bicycle (Caron-ese: "zrumspinfut"). The beauty of a slice of Cascadia's temperate rainforest encapsulated by the ocean is plenty alluring to locals and tourists alike year-round; for an escapee of Saskatchewan, being at not just a water's edge but the water's edge - the big water, the ocean, the salty wetness, the fish blanket, the boat road - is like having the mythical siren sing Billie Holliday songs through a THX sound system plugged directly into your cerebral core. To say Justin enjoys his Stanley Park bike rides would be like saying zombies have a mild attraction to human brains, or like saying Guatemalan insanity peppers a just a wee bit warm, or like saying Toronto sports fans can be cautiously optimistic. Don't get between the man, his bike and the sea wall, is what I'm saying.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Justin Caron had the good sense to not just move from Regina to Vancouver, to not just grace the world with his web design skills, to not just enjoy the natural beauty at his and our doorstep whenever he can, to not just support our beloved Vancouver Whitecaps, but to do something truly noble: read and follow Eighty Six Forever. For that, Justin is truly a scholar and a gentleman and we here at 86F would like to thank him for helping us celebrate this landmark (insofar as a thousand Twitter followers is now a legitimate landmark for relevancy) in our short yet illustrious-ish history.
Thank you, Justin, and thank you to all our readers, commenters and followers. Here's to another thousand of you and maybe a few more Justin Carons.
Rituro is a freelance nerd, sports fan and avid gamer. Feel free to throw a tweet his way and follow @ThatRituroGuy.