Tag Archives: 2010 Olympics

Art as Propaganda: The BC Spirit Festival

Today, I’m mourning an anniversary of sorts, as it was one year ago today that the BC Liberals sent the mass emails around the province announcing the massive raiding of BC Lottery Corporation and cutting off funding to thousands of arts and cultural groups. Having started this blog only two weeks before, I hadn’t expected to be suddenly thrown into a spiral of poverty and bitterness, which admittedly has only grown worse as the months passed. Like so many others, I was forced to Stop All Art.

So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Campbell government and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger – one of the more worthless and imbecilic politicians in this province, and that’s saying something – recently announced that they would be “restoring” about 10 million worth of “arts” funding on a sham annual propaganda event called the BC Spirit Festival.

This funding program is an attempt by Campbell to milk the success of the Olympics for the next three years every February, which, not coincidently, will take us to the next election in 2013.

Needless to say, the arts community is once again enraged, as most organizations are barely clinging to life as it is, as they just recently learned that funding will be cut again this year. And now the only hope to access any provincial funding is to sell out their artistic freedom and put on some sort of pseudo-Olympic celebration that pays homage to the assholes who crippled them. It really is sick.

So sick, in fact, that BC Arts Council chair Jane Danzo finally decided to resign 10 days ago, slamming the government for their latest cuts while simultaneously announcing the Spirit Festival fund with absolutely no consultation with the Arts Council.

The last two weeks have seen numerous arts community heavyweights weigh in on the matter and condemn the government for what some have labelled a fascist view of the arts as state propaganda. In a blog post that was subsequently published in the Georgia Straight, John McLaughlin had these choice words:

“But outside of economic and political arguments, the real slap in the face comes from the arrogance of the Spirit Festival scheme. The government has slashed the arts community in half — then spoon-fed back a shadow of its previous funding in such a way that creative control is ripped from the hands of artists themselves. They are now expected to act as mouthpieces championing a legacy of debt, excess, and political misdirection — and we’re expected not to notice.”

“That’s not “belt-tightening” — that’s premeditated murder by strangulation.”

And they wonder why 705,000 signed the No HST petition? It has very little to do with the actual tax, you fools. People simply hate this government, and everything Gordon Campbell stands for.

And with so many underemployed but highly creative people kicking around the province these days, Recall in the Fall is going to be a nasty, dirty fight. But hey, they brought it on themselves.

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Giant Birds Are Freaky

The giant mutant bird landed so silently that the woman and her daughter didn’t even notice it, transfixed as they were on the skateboarders across the square doing tricks against the benches and rails.

The bird sized them up like little worms, and prepared to peck them off the bench and fly home to her nest to feed her young. She wondered if she could snatch them both at once, thus saving her a trip, but decided in the end to snatch the big one first, and leave the little one to plump up a little more…

My son called these giant birds “freaky” when we rode through the Olympic Village the other day, and wished sincerely that they be removed. When I told him it was supposed to be public art, he said, “I see,” and shook his head, still not convinced of its merits. On the other hand, he and I both thought the restored Salt building fronting the square is a gem.


Cool to look through the building and see all the exposed rafters. Even the underside is posted up and visible to passers by on the north side.

And this door is a bit of a head scratcher… Watch your step!

But back to the birds. It turns out that they are a reference to the public art in a social housing quartier built outside of Paris in the late 1960’s called La Grande Borne (thanks to architect Ron Simpson for pointing this out). The pigeons were designed by artist Francois LaLanne.

Hailed as an innovative urban design feat, the quartier was built between a triangle of freeway in the Paris suburbs, and features all sorts of public art and interesting building features. It is an excellent example of low-cost, high density housing.

So perhaps the Olympic Village architects were trying to suggest that their village design is also groundbreaking and innovative. I dunno. La Grande Borne, in some ways, is a high concept ghetto, and was a focal point of the mostly immigrant youth protests outside Paris in 2008.

The Olympic Village, on the other hand, is still empty streets and barren boulevards. Even the rich, from home or abroad, can’t afford to live here.

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Olympic Hockey Afterthoughts

Prayers are Answered, Whereas Taunts are Avenged

I found this from CDC Sunday morning, before the Gold Medal hockey game:

“Our Father, who art in GM Place, HOCKEY be thy name, thy will be done. GOLD shall be WON on ice as well as in the stands. Give us this day our hockey sticks and forgive us our penalties, as we forgive those who crosscheck against us. LEAD US not into elimination but deliver us TO VICTORY, in the name of the fans… …CANADA… and the Holy Puck. AMEN!! GO CANADA GO!!!!!!!!”

As you can see, unlike the heathen Americans, who indulge in crude battle irony, we Canadians always show due reverence in our parodies.

A Goal Scorer’s Goal

Yes, the Hockey Gods are just. Team USA lost honourably, but when you are so close to winning, it’s makes it that much harder to lose, eh? This was by design, no doubt.

So it must have really stung to push us to overtime with a last minute goal, and feel like another miracle on ice was about to be performed, only to see some kid come flying into the zone, jumping onto the backs of two defensemen in an effort to break through, a kid with wide eyes and determination, a kid who’s unrelenting, who wants it that freakin’ bad.

He beats the defencemen to the puck in the corner and cuts up the boards where the ref tries to check him. But he pokes it down to Iginla to get the cycle going, then streaks towards the net for a give-and-go. Jarome eats a hit to deliver the pass.

And now it’s just some kid on Britannia Ice Rink or a frozen prairie pond, alone with the goalifor the next three seconds, dreaming of scoring the winner against the Russians or during game seven of the Stanley Cup final. The moment might as well be played out in a garage as the frozen River of the Water of Life.

The kid has maybe 15 feet to work with, so the next touch of the puck is of the utmost importance – what, where, when, why. How? Deke, wrap around, snap shot, fake, backhand or forehand? This one touch will determine everything that happens next.

And where most players would still be focused on controlling the puck, the kid gets his head up. And that is crucial, that is everything.

He sees all he needs to see to make his decision in a blink of an eye: the goalie’s hand sliding up the stick for a poke check, the five hole opening for the split second it takes to knock the puck off the shooter’s stick.

Because he got his head up, the kid sees all that, and now he knows he has an even smaller split of a second to react, to get the shot off and hit the tunnel of light that’s opening up between the goalie’s pads.

When a boxer sees the shoulder drop and a roundhouse coming, there’s a brief opening to throw a straight jab. When the safeties are blitzing, the quarterback has a second to find an open receiver.

When Goliath is rushing at you across the desert, his forehead glistens in the sun.

The risk-reward of aggression is huge because there is always a moment of naked weakness revealed. And if it gets exploited, if you are beaten to the punch, it can cost you a touchdown, a knockout, a golden goal. It can kill you.

For pure scorers, the act is second nature, instinctual, adrenal. It’s been rehearsed a thousand times before in basement hockey, floor hockey, ruler hockey, barn hockey, kitchen hockey, road hockey as well as on the pond, river, lake and in the rink…

Opportunity and execution: snipe.

The kid pulls the trigger so fast he doesn’t even see it go in. He just hears the roar of the crowd and knows he’s done it, delivered jubilance to millions across the country.

At just twenty-two, he has already earned his wings.

Celebrate.

Religious Fervor

The endless street parties that took over the city during the Olympics reminded me so much of 1994, and how incredible it was. Walking around downtown on Sunday night was like the atmosphere after Game Six vs. the Rangers: utter euphoria. It’s been 16 years!

But the crowd was bigger on Sunday, and having been caught up in the Game Seven riot in 1994, I shudder to think what would have happened if we had lost to the Americans? In Canada, one goal separates tens of thousands of happy, high-fiving drunk guys and an angry, violent mob. And this time, the Army was ready to intervene. They were everywhere. Imagine that end to the Vancouver Olympics and I guess you can understand why 1 billion was spent on security.

Such is our religion.

The Redemption of Bobby Lou

After suffering through a week of Pang, Kypreos, Mackenzie, Hodge, Ferraro and every other analyst on TV calling Luongo shaky and questioning his ability to win big games, it sure was nice to see him with the gold medal around his neck at the end of it all.

For Canuck fans, the script was almost as compelling as the Crosby winner. Luongo is a class act all the way, and the Rodney Dangerfield treatment he’s had dogging him since the Hawks knocked us out last spring has never seemed just. The guy gives his heart and soul every minute. He wears Johnny Canuck on his mask. He reveres Martin Brodeur. He simply loves the game.

But Vancouver has been known as The Goalie Graveyard since the 1970’s, and I have to admit that I have wondered if Luongo might eventually get claimed, too. I mean, wow, the Gold Medal game in Vancouver? The potential for a horror show – like the boos for Team Canada in 1972 at the Pacific Mausoleum – was certainly there. And shit, the city could have been ripped to shreds if you let in another goal. Now that’s pressure.

But let’s face it, Luongo is easily the best goalie the Canucks have had in 40 years in the NHL. If anyone deserves to come out a winner, it’s a guy like him. Demitra couldn’t beat ya’. You got the last laugh on Kane. The media is finally playing a different song.

And tonight, even in Detroit the “Looo’s” were ringing out all night long!

The Holy Grail

As we all know, hockey’s true grail is silver, not gold. And post-Olympics, I am suddenly optimistic about the Canucks’ chances of taking a run at the Stanley Cup this year. Luongo has a 400 pound gorilla off his back, Kesler and Burrows forecheck and backcheck harder than anyone in the league, Demitra looks like he’s 25 again, Henrik and Daniel seem to be toying with defencemen most shifts.

Who knows?

The Hockey Gods Aren’t Singing, “No, Canada”

Apparently, Americans are heathens. They do not believe in the Hockey Gods. Posting a desecration of Canada’s national anthem on the ESPN website today after last night’s 5-3 USA victory over Canada proves that they are unenlightened infidels, with no moral compass.

They lack the fear of God.

And they shall be smited down for their insolence.

The Hockey Gods are not amused…

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No Canada (as posted on espn.com)

No, Canada

You lost to Uncle Sam

We’ll take the gold

You laid down like a lamb

With frying pans you tended goal

We scored on you at will

From far and wide, Oh Canada

We’re scoring on you still.

God keep your nets

Wide open and emp-ty

O Canada

We scored five goals on thee

O Canada

U.S. with gold you’ll see!

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(The day after losing 5-3 to the USA: Vancouver Sun picture of Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur at practice Monday morning at Brittania Ice Rink (my son’s home ice hockey rink for his first two years playing). Canucks’ Luongo gets his chance in goal for the rest of the Olympics after Brodeur’s weak performance against USA on Sunday.) 

Signage Olympics

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Colbert’s Gold Medal Performance

Well, I just had to go check it out. Stephen Colbert’s last day of filming down at Creekside Park. And he didn’t disappoint. It was a good time, started off with a Dutch brass band and a singing of Oh Canada, and the show’s opening line, “I’ve been here a week, and I’m still the whitest thing on the ground.” Sure, but look at the Lions up there behind you, in all their glory today.

As I rode in on the seawall, I was pretty amazed at just how many people were there. The Goodyear folks were so impressed with the turnout yesterday that they did a fly-by today to film the crowd from above.

One of the funniest, and more boundary-pushing segments was his take on the long-running segment, “Better know a District.” Today, it was “Better know a Riding,” and Ujaal Dosanj was the politician being roasted today. As usual, Colbert twisted his words and made him look silly, but old Ujaal acquitted himself well, and even came out onstage for a cameo. Would have loved to have seen him roast Campbell or Robertson, but this was still good.

At the end of it all, folks were all smiles, and why not? It was a gorgeous day and lots of laughter to be had. And what better way to end it than by riding the moose and waving our flag!

And finally, before the show ended, we got taken off the On Notice board. I guess we’re no longer iceholes in his mind. Thanks for coming, Stephen!

Stephen Colbert in Vancouver: A Sign of the Times

I have to admit that I am almost as big an aficionado of satire as I am of hockey. In fact, I did my undergraduate English thesis on postmodern parody, an offshoot of traditional satire. So this week has been sort of a dream week for me. First, on Tuesday the men’s hockey tournament kicked off with an 8-0 shutout by Canada (Loooouu!!!). And today, perhaps the best television satirist of our time, Stephen Colbert, landed in Vancouver to tape segments for his Colbert Report.

While most news and blogging surrounding the Olympics has been nauseating — either absurdly unnatural boosterism, or overly negative and depressing criticism — very little in the way of good, old fashioned parody has emerged. Judging by the popularity of my two Olympics-related parody posts (“Embracing the Olympic Spirit Can Be Unpredictable” and “Going Green: Vanoc Releases Staff/Volunteer Training Video”) I would say the general public is crying out for some Olympic satire.

Well, if anyone can deliver on this account and get us laughing at ourselves, it’s Stephen Colbert. He’s already called us “iceholes”, and last week he unveiled the above poster, which he is urging everyone to plaster around the city.

If you don’t know the story, in a stroke of inspiration a city worker emailed Colbert and invited him to come to Vancouver after he started slagging Canada on air over the allotment of practice time at the Richmond Oval to the US speed skating team — hence the “iceholes” comment. Colbert accepted, and this serendipitous invitation will undoubtedly prove to be a far better marketing event for the city than anything our billion dollar VANOC marketing team could ever dream up, stuck as they are in the tiny box of possibilities presented by a slavish pandering to corporate sponsorship and a simultaneous fear of anything with a free, creative mind (and mouth).

Colbert will, for sure, take the piss out of both us and them. And it’ll be a blast!

He’ll be filming again tomorrow morning at 9:15 at Creekside Park if anyone wants to go have a look. I can’t wait to see the shows when they air next week!