Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

Wandering the streets of Vancouver in celebration of Canada's Gold Medal in Men's Hockey.

It has been seventeen days straight of excitement, madness, spending, gorging, drinking and screaming for Vancouver. The 2010 Winter Olympic Games are over. For some this is a non-issue. For thousands it is a close to an event that brought some of the most memorable Canadian pride-filled moments in recent history.

Never before have I witnessed Canadian pride like this in my hometown. Out here on the west coast, we are far removed from the nation’s centre of the universe, where July 1st Canada Day parties run rampant and cities spend hordes on breathtaking celebrations of the red and white kind. The Vancouver Olympics Games were seventeen days worth of July firsts. And now, we have to go back to work.

Canadian flag caught on screen at Yaletown LiveCity.

For those that embraced this cross-country party, there was a little emptiness felt when the Olympic flame was distinguished during the closing ceremonies as our homegrown boy Neil Young sang Long May You Run. The red and white, the camaraderie, the revelry and festivity will be missed.

It felt good to come together and focus on joy; to let our worries slip away. But now it is back to reality and the daily grind. The bills, debts, problems, issues, complaints, grumbles and grieves of our daily lives.

This isn’t the kind of hangover cured with Tylenol. This is more like a hot-air balloon deflating.

So what do we do now?

Well, we recover.

Celebrating the Olympic Gold Medal Men's Hockey Win - 2010

And then hopefully we get off our butts and maintain some engagement in our city and in our country. We don’t need a million dollar excuse to walk from one end of town to the other, to start conversations with people next to us in line or on the bus, to have a good laugh alongside complete strangers. We don’t need an organizing committee to convince us to get involved, hold our hands and lead us to events.

The real legacy of the Games will be a city that grows up, takes charge and keeps the stick out of its you know what. So here is to a speedy recovery and a Vancouver that is wiser, livelier, freer, more sociable and proudly Canadian.

In the meantime, here are some random things to do this month now that your calendar is freed up:

Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games; March 12 – 21, 2010

Vancouver International Dance Festival; March 12 – 21, 2010

Photographs by Ansel Adams and Leonard Frank; Through to March 13, 2010

21st Century Flea Market; March 14, 2010

2010 Vancouver Wine and Beer Fest; March 26th, 2010

Earth Hour; March 27th at 8:30pm

Free Bombardier train from Granville Island to Athletes' Village

If you missed out on Olympic activities, some things are staying open through the Paralympic Games such as:

 BC Pavilion (Vancouver Art Gallery)

Bombardier Streetcar

Canada Pavilion

GE Plaza at Robson Square

Ziptrek Vancouver

Canada’s Northern House

CentrePlace Manitoba

LiveCity Downtown

Royal Canadian Mint Pavilion

City Caucus seems to be the best place to keep updated on these Olympic and Paralympic-related activities.

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Vancouverites’ grumpiness and lack of enthusiasm over hosting the Olympic Games are making headlines as international media take note off the somber atmosphere in a city set to host the world in a matter of days.

In many social circles, Olympic excitement and support is whispered with an apologetic shrug, for fear of incurring the wrath of those louder folks unhappy with the whole spectacle. Tales of visits to the official Olympic store and plans for taking in the events and celebrations are shared with hesitance.

Laughs are being had, but in many cases, at the expense of the Games over lack of snow, the politics, spending, transportation, security and pretty much anything that can be poked fun at.

In a city very much divided over the world’s largest sporting event, the back-and-forth sentiment is cause for whiplash. I for one, am starting to feel schizophrenic over my own bandwagon nature, finding myself torn between excitement and outrage over the fanfare and its “issues”. But despite my moments of irritation and cries for social justice, I find myself wondering in disappointment if this is it?

Other than the coordinated official displays of Olympic activity at Robson Square and along Granville Street downtown and the 100-foot high Olympic advertisements plastered up the sides of sponsoring skyscrapers, Vancouver is lacking the decoration of a city about to display itself on TV’s around the world. I am waiting for the crowds dressed in head-to-toe national colours, seas of red mittens, flags hanging in the windows of houses and banners hanging from every lamp post, hydro pole and street sign.

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Four or five years ago I was a fan of the Olympic Games and then I watched the controversial preparations unfold in the city I was born in – Vancouver. The numbers, dollars signs and price tags juxtaposed next to a sidewalk memorial for a homeless woman who accidently set herself ablaze as she tried to stay warm last winter, the cardboard sleeping mats that line storefront doorways on my way home and the young girl obviously suffering from mental illness that ran up behind me one day downtown and punched me in the back.

I have increasingly become jaded by an event that leaves the politicians grinning ear to ear and the everyday folk cursing them under our breathes. Over the past few years the Games have become synonymous with traffic jams, wasted money, unavailable tickets, outrageously priced events, the elite class, etc., etc.

And while many of these grudges may ring true, I find I am slowly swinging back to the other side…not so far as to once again become an Olympic supporter, but perhaps a Vancouverite and proud Canadian wanting and hoping to enjoy two weeks of incredible insanity alongside hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.

2010 Olympics - Red Mittens

I find myself wanting a pair of red mittens (to me a symbol of national pride and sportsmanship), scoping out the planned festivities, circling the free events and anticipating that I might just want to book off some vacation time because come February I know that I will much prefer to stand on a street corner chatting with some bloke from Timbuktu dressed in the national colours of Timbuktu than be holed up in my window-less office.

Homelessness, poverty, economic woes, budget cuts, shitty transportation and self-benefiting elite classes will continue to exist either way. And like “they” say, the money has been spent and the Games are coming, so is it really so terrible if I enjoy them?

Cypress Mountain

Of course my tune has changed slightly this week after winning an opportunity through my work to purchase two tickets to the Gold Medal Ladies Snowboard Cross event on Cypress Mountain…but I just won the opportunity to buy them. They weren’t free, and I will be dining on Mr. Noodles and grilled cheese sandwiches until my next pay-day.

So I will trek up the mountain in February, past numerous security checkpoints I am sure, and mutter under my breathe all the way to the top and then I will quickly forget about how much of a pain the Olympic Games are as I drink, cheer and likely lose my voice over some gals in gear that I don’t know and will likely never meet, as they rip down a course made of dollar signs… and I will really and truly classify that very moment as one of the many highlights of my life and for a split second the whole thing will seem just perfect.

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I can’t afford to go see the Dalai Lama when he is in town. I understand that tickets cost a lot because they go towards a good thing, so I try to be understanding, but it bums me out a little.

 Dalai Lama visits Canada.On the way home from Word on the Street at the Vancouver Public Library recently, I was chilling on the 22 up Cornwall when one of those important-person-convoys drove past the bus – sirens on and lights flashing.

As I turned to look out the back window of the bus, the woman behind me shrieked.

“That was the Dalai Lama.”

My head whipped back around, almost coming off, but the moving tinted window was just a bit too far away to make out anyone inside.

Damn. I was seriously tempted to jump off the bus and run down the street after the car.

“You really saw him?” I asked.

“The back of his head…and his little outfit.”

Now, I have never understood how people get all crazy and weepy when they see a Hollywood celebrity, but at this moment I almost wept at ALMOST seeing the back of the Dalai Lama’s head.

I am not a religious person, and he is not a god. He is just a simple man. Albeit one who could really teach the world a thing or two. Not about spirituality, not about the afterlife, but about compassion and forgiveness and what it means to be human.

I catch myself being angry at the lack of global support for Tibet, at the hypocrisy of our world leaders and the backwards, yet powerful ideal that is capitalism.

But anger is not productive. It is not healthy. And it sure won’t fix the wrongs of the world.

So I try to learn from him – the Dalai Lama.

Whose honesty and forgiveness make me weep.

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