Tag Archives: movies

#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.

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#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!

Sarah Shahi Brings Out the Paparazzi

Gastown is a favourite location for film shoots, and it’s pretty common to see crews set up and shut down streets. From Brad Pitt back in 1993, to Twilight stars, to B-grade movies of the week, locals are somewhat immune to the sight of film crews. There are so many distractions in this part of town that I wonder if Gastown residents aren’t a somewhat jaded bunch? Crack whores, Jazz Fest, protest marches, shunting trains, clubbers fighting over girls, celebrities — we hardly bat an eye.

But it was somewhat amusing to see the paparazzi out when the crew for the new pilot of “Facing Kate” rolled onto Alexander Street recently. The crew members didn’t even seem to know who the star of the show was, yet there was a little band of photographers with giant lenses hovering around waiting to storm the set. As me and kiddo munched in the craft tent, I overheard someone say it was an actor from “The L Word” that had brought the vultures out. Security and police were both called into action to chase off the paparazzi in what can only be described as scene from a bad movie.

Well, after I did a little Googling to try to put a name to the face of the star, I found that not only had Sarah Shahi been in “The L Word”, but a fan site rated one of her lesbian scenes as #6 in the all time sexiest sex scenes in the history of prime time television. But I think what really brought out the paparazzi might have been the fact that she was also a Maxim girl once upon a time. Hmmmn, she sure looks different here, eh?

My apologies if posting these photos seems gratuitous or unnecessary, but blogs are often condemned for not getting the facts straight, so I posted the Maxim shots solely in the interests of accuracy in reporting.

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“Going Green”: VANOC Releases Staff/Volunteer Training Video

In an apparent attempt to counter The Suzuki Foundation’s criticism of the “Carbon-Free Games”, today VANOC released to the media their “Going Green” training video for the thousands of volunteers and staff working during the Games. Training and orientation sessions have been ongoing since January for those working at the many Olympic venues, and VANOC is hoping to counter criticism that they aren’t doing enough to educate about the environment.

The volunteers that I overheard after seeing the training video had mixed reviews, including, “Interesting…” “Ew, that was just weird.” “Totally Predictable.” “Whatever.” And, “OMG, that was fugly.”

One volunteer even claimed that he had seen the video on Youtube. “It was over a year ago, dude. Like, it’s super news. VANOC is so lame!”

VANOC spokesman, Yesman Ina Soot, confirmed the allegation and explained the reasoning behind copying a cartoon video from Youtube and using it for training purposes, stating that, “Our intentions were to produce this training video at the least cost to both the taxpayer and the environment, and I think we delivered in spades on both counts.” He added, “Internet piracy is a carbon neutral video production option: it didn’t cost the environment or taxpayers a penny to produce. How could any responsible Government be expected to say “No” to such an option, if it so readily exists?”

When questioned about the message VANOC was sending by using a satirical cartoon video as a means to educating staff and volunteers about climate change solutions, Yesman looked quizzical, and said, “There is nothing satirical about this training video.”

He continued, “Hopefully, the deep lessons learned – especially after the death of the polar bear trapped in the Hummer at the end — will resonate with all our workforce, and they will take that message forth and spread it to everyone they greet during the Games: the Western lifestyle doesn’t have to change for us to Go Green. All the people who are always so negative and talk so much that they eventually “kill the polar bears” will not stand in the way of our govenment’s determination to take action and Go Green.”

See for yourself, watch “Going Green“, the VANOC staff/volunteer training video. It just might inspire you, too!

Canada’s Shame: Harper at the Copenhagen Summit

Here are a few video primers for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, where we already know that no binding agreement will be reached, thanks, in large part, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s unrelenting undermining of the process. He’s from Calgary, right?

A quick recipe for a successful Copenhagen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htzw2b472Ws

Listening to David Suzuki, as candid man on the street, turns out to be a whole lot more interesting than listening to David Suzuki, the slick media pundit. Wow.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-ZwxieJ9Ag

Does saving the environment really mean massive job losses? This umbrella thinks so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZmyg_xDg1k

Greenpeace still likes Canada, even if our recent environmental record is abysmal. (The link to the CBC video report is at the bottom of the page).

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/canadas-lacklustre-environmental-record-causes-stir-20091130

So maybe it’s time to call Prime Minister Harper on his bullshit.  His phone number is posted in this video. So go ahead, make that call.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yVICgOQvqs

Remember this old song? Kofi Annan does! The music industry tries to inspire change.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJZ1CaINH0o&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Australian who wrote the above song, sings a new one for his prime minister leading up to Copenhagen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2ro-qX7Ja8

And finally, a tragically funny one about how not to go green. Premier Campbell, is that you?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hPcPEeB_Ok

Quick! Disinvoke reality. Commence non-committal dance party.

“Captain’s Blog… Um… you know what, I’m so over my blog. Whatever.”

Because there’s nothing worse than the sudden realization that you are lame, even if you are the only Hipsters in Space.

Hollywood Excess: Brad Pitt in Gastown

pitt1

Back in 1993, a film location manager knocked on my door. He explained to me that they were thinking of using Alexander Street as the main street of a frontier town for a movie, and wondered if I would be agreeable to having the building I was living in at the time as part of the set? The movie was to feature big stars like Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn, and was going to be one of the biggest budget films produced that year. Um, sure.

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A few months later, the unit block of Alexander was transformed into the Wild West town featured in Legends of the Fall. It was an incredible undertaking that included dumping tons of dirt onto the street to cover the pavement. Several buildings had fake facades built, and every doorway was given awnings, old signs, and some had hitching posts. My place was the barbershop. Notice that the Hotel Europe was called the Europe, but a new sign added (below). Vancouver’s original telegraph station (now demolished, sigh) that was at the foot of Columbia was the county jail in the movie — unfortunately I don’t have a pic of it.

legends1
Being one of the local residents affected, I was granted the run of the set. At one point, my girlfriend at the time and one of her sisters came along to try and get some pictures of Aidan Quinn. But when they spotted a kind of rugged, long-haired dude strutting around, they literally screamed, “Brad Pitt!! Why didn’t you tell us!”

I had heard of Brad Pitt, but back then he wasn’t the huge megastar that he is now. I didn’t think he was a big deal. In fact, the day earlier, he was standing on a raised platform right outside my window on the second floor. I happened to be drinking a beer and hanging out the window watching, and we ended up chatting for a while between takes. It started with him saying, “Boy, I could really use one of those right about now.” He seemed like a pretty normal guy to me.

That scene, for those who have seen the movie, is when Pitt’s character is watching helplessly from a jail cell as Aidan Quinn’s character is on the street below talking up Pitt’s love interest: the absolutely stunning Karina Lombard (seated in the back of the car in these pictures). Notice also that Pitt is hacking a butt between takes.

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It’s interesting to note that the filming on Alexander took about 2 months from set building to clean-up. It must have cost millions, yet they only filmed for a few days. And the actual running time of these “town” scenes is about 2-3 minutes in what was a very long (and not particularly good, I thought) movie. Nevertheless, this turned out to be the role that propelled Pitt to A-list status.