Tag Archives: media

#Occupy Vancouver: Out of Sight, Out of Media

Less than two months ago, the #occupy movement captured the hearts and minds of people around the world. Tent cities sprang up in cities everywhere, and idealistic videos like “Women of #Occupy Wall Street” (above) wistfully showed articulate young people to be quite the opposite of the entitled, apathetic losers the media often likes to paint them as. The positive public reaction was sincere, widespread and powerful.

But somewhere around the beginning of November, public opinion began to change. As Naomi Wolf’s excellent Guardian article points out here, there was a concerted effort to discredit the tent city occupiers, and turn the general public against them. Vancouver city officials and police admitted to being privy to continental-wide conference calls between #occupy cities, which were organized by the US Department of Homeland Security, about how to deal with the tent cities. Clearly, there was serious concern in high places, if Homeland Security was getting involved. The fact that our “progressive” civic officials took part in this, and, after some delay, caved in and went along with this propaganda effort against the most progressive movement in decades, speaks volumes about how progressive they really are. (Quisling comes to mind.)

So not coincidentally, during Remembrance Day week, police departments across North America began issuing form letter-like media press releases claiming that violent, Black Bloc anarchists had infiltrated the tent cities (supported by no evidence whatsoever). The media in every #occupy city in North America lapped it up without ever bothering to check to see if it was true. Fire and public health concerns were constantly raised. Drug use and overdose deaths were signs that anarchy was prevailing. Surrounding businesses were reportedly losing money. This peaceful, non-violent protest was suddenly being portrayed as a dangerous shit show, and calls for it to be shut down grew louder by the day.

It was, undoubtedly, one of the best-orchestrated propaganda campaigns of recent decades.

Regardless of who actually was in the protest camps, those tent cities were a symbol of the seething discontent prevalent today, and the possibility and hope that maybe, just maybe, the pendulum of avarice, greed and conspicuous consumption that has dominated the west since the 1980s had finally reached its extreme, and was about to swing back hard.

And as long as those tents remained, the debate about what they represented went on. The media, slow on the uptake at first, began pumping out stories and column inches debating the movement. People from all strata of society were engaged. Everyone had an opinion and seemed to care, one way or the other.

And for the corporate agenda, that is probably the scariest world imaginable: people questioning their ethics, the ponzi scheme they have created, the corruption that has infiltrated the pillars of democratic society.

People talking about change.

And so the symbol of the movement — the tent cities — had to go.

It’s been barely two weeks since the #occupy Vancouver tent city was dismantled, and, not surprisingly, media stories about income disparity, Wall Street ethics, campaign finance reform, progressive taxation, have all but completely vanished. #Occupy might as well have happened in 1968 it seems so distant now, since it has been virtually expunged from the public discourse.

It was swift, often brutal, and entirely effective. Erasing the key symbol was like dropping a nuclear bomb to end the war for public opinion. Time will tell if it really was a death blow to the movement.

#1 Reason to Grow a ‘Stache for Movember: Get Lucky!

Let’s face it, mustaches went out of style for most straight guys sometime in the early 1980’s. Nowadays, us heteros associate lip sweaters with gay men and cops. Van Dykes became popular again in the 90’s, thanks to grunge, and meterosexual stubble soon followed suit with the proliferation of Calvin Klein models moodily posing topless with waxed and oiled torsos.

But the days when chest hair was a sign of virility are long gone, unceremoniously shaved and plucked into oblivion, just like the disco bush. Along with musicals like Hair, the mustache died a pretty horrible death, and has never really recovered. Although lately there’s been a bit of a resurgence in mutton chops, beards and afros, the mustache just seems to have too much baggage to make a comeback.

Still, one has to admire the Prostate Cancer awareness campaign, Movember, that started nearly a decade ago in Australia, and has since spread to Europe and North America. Grow a mustache and raise awareness for cancer, what a great gimmick, given how men with mustaches are so conspicuous these days.

But now the ladies have apparently gotten on board, too, and no longer are studiously avoiding mustachioed men like the plague. That’s right, for one day a year at least, the women are actually urging their sisters to Have Sex With a Guy With a Mustache on November 18th.

If this catches on, expect to see a lot more men participating next Movember!

PUSH and Shove

After kind of a crazy week of attending public meetings and commenting rather obsessively on the civic blogs about the Historic Area Height Review, not to mention endless work meetings and documents due, it sure was nice to take in a little fictional drama, as the PUSH festival’s production of La Marea (The Tide) has taken over the unit block of Water Street.

Each night they close the block to cars, cut the streetlights, and 9 different scenes take place concurrently along the street and in the storefront windows. Each one takes ten minutes to play out, then there’s a break for a couple of minutes between each playing so that the audience can walk to whatever scene they want to see next. They repeat over and over for two hours each night. Over the course of the week, I’ve managed to see each scene at least once now. There’s something rather stimulating about going to pick up a paper or buy milk, and stopping along the way to watch a mini-play for a ten minutes.

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The Mainstream Blah-gosphere Circa 2012

The Douglas Coupland School of Marketing

What the heck is this box doing at the corner of Carrall and Cordova, next to an old disabled couple camped out on the stoop of the empty Rainier? What is “House in a box”, a new form of housing for the poor? Is some charity collecting appliance boxes and giving them to homeless people? Is this so crazy that I should visit the website, or drop by the address on the box to check it out?

Well, it was only a block out of my way, so I walked by, and it was a bloody “concept” furniture store having a grand opening, and this box in the street was their cynical little marketing ploy to generate foot traffic on a block where there generally isn’t that many pedestrians owning new condos that need professional design and furnishings, if you know what I mean…

I found this marketing ploy to be totally disrespectful and sickening (and I fully realize that I’m playing right into their hands by posting pictures), but unless the owners were just simply too clueless about their new neighbourhood to see why this was not ethical advertising, they should be ashamed of themselves. Then again, if they knew the neighbourhood and the high rate of business failures in Gastown, especially since the recession, well, they probably wouldn’t have moved here in the first place….

As if that brush with guerrilla advertising wasn’t enough, I was walking along later that night and there appeared to be another opening at the old kicks store that just went belly up on Powell after 3 years. When I saw the sandwich board with “RootsxDouglasCoupland” in black and white beside a rainbow banner, I thought, hmmn, maybe he’s launching a new book.

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship to Douglas Coupland as a writer. On the one hand, I thought Generation X was boring as hell when it first came out, and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. This is supposed to be the defining novel of my generation? Compared to Trainspotting or Fight Club or American Psycho, Generation X was embarrassingly cute fluff. Pffft. I could write a better novel than that, no sweat, and I have a drawer full of unpublished fragments to prove it!

But on the other hand, Coupland is only a few years older than me and grew up just up the mountainside from where I did. His locally-set novels and non-fiction reflect an eerily similar geographic perspective on the city to the one I grew up with. Vancouver is one of those places where geographical location can play a big part in shaping your psyche, and Coupland has captured that sense of ironic distance to the city one gets from growing up across the water and high up on the side of the North Shore mountains. As Rudyard Kipling once mused, “Vancouver is a beautiful but fickle woman, best admired from afar….” Well, the North Shore mountains are an ideal place to admire her from.

Coupland’s writing grew on me over time, as did a shared fascination with historical minutae. And then, about ten years ago, I went to a VIWF event featuring Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and local boy Douglas Coupland in an intimate conversation. I thought the foul-mouthed, hard-living Scot would make a meal of Coupland, but it turned out to be the other way around. Coupland disarmed Welsch immediately by taking off his sweater to reveal a Hearts jersey, and then proceeded to have everyone laughing and enthralled for two hours, including Irvine. Since then, I’ve gained a definite appreciation for Coupland’s work. Although I still don’t like everything he creates, there’s no denying there’s a certain genius at work behind it.

Well, the small group of smokers and texters milling around on the sidewalk outside the store looked just like the impeccable hipsters on the rainbow RootsxDouglasCoupland posters I had seen in a couple of places around town earlier in the week. In contrast to the fashion slaves, I was three days unshaven, flying the flannel, and sporting twelve-year-old Docs worn razor thin at the sole – clearly a local and not on the guest list.

One of the chics rolled her eyes at me as I walked up and poked my head in the door just to see if Coupland was actually there. He was talking to a small group, the last few left in the store, which I now noticed was full of Roots clothes that I would never wear, mainly because I couldn’t afford to these days, but also because if I were to buy some new clothes, it wouldn’t be these ones, yunno, cause they looked kinda touristy. Though I might have gone in and dropped $20 on a book…

But oh, Doug, you can’t be serious! You designed a clothing line for Roots? And you’re launching it here in Gastown because, what, it gives you some kinda cred? You make me wanna puke! And so does your technicolour yawn of a marketing campaign, complete with the obligatory photo collage (like Rennie’s Woodwards ads) and the flurry of canned tweets it links to. I dare anyone to view the RootsxDC splash, marketing video and click through to the collage and not feel immediately nauseous and the need for a hot shower.

I’m sorry, but I’m not sensing any irony here, just a pure, unadulterated shill.

Thankfully, it was a one-off event, and Roots isn’t opening a store permanently on Powell. I guess they have a little more business sense than MAD, no matter how questionable their latest clothing line may be.

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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?

Signage Olympics

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