Olympic Torch Ride-Along Live (well, undead) Blog

Olympic Torchbearer

I’m being tremendously lazy today because I spent far too much time trying to get iTunes to do what I want it to do, which is move certain songs off my CD drive onto my iPhone without erasing every song on my iPhone right now or forcing me to upload to the iPhone all the goddam ABBA and crap that’s on the hard drive, but Nooooooooooooo, Steve won’t have it.

Seriously, you KNOW you’ve put your stamp on a company when even their smallest products reproduce your pathologies in perfect detail.

Anyhoooooooo… Today, thanks to Sam Macmillan at 6S and Michael Allison at the Wilcox Group, I got to ride in the convoy of the Olympic Torch today, although I did not actually see the flame, which is neither here nor there but somewhere else, which is where it would be if it was, isn’t it?

Now, perhaps we need a little background…

I live on the Downtown Eastside, and the Olympics have, for literally the past 2 years, been a huge political shitstorm of Katrina-esque proportions. That the Olympics would take place regardless of how popular the No Olympics movement became was clear from the beginning and if there’s one thing my time working at Greenpeace taught me, it’s that by participating in useless protests that will never result in change, people bleed off their urge to act and, thus, prevent themselves from changing the world.

And I have a problem with that.

So, surrounded as I have been for the past 24 months by nonstop political sloganeering from all sides of the issue, essentially all of the mindshare I’ve given the Olympics has been equal-opportunity pushback, as in “WILL YOU ALL SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE? AND YOU! THERE! SUCK IT UP, THE OLYMPICS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN WHETHER YOU WHINE ABOUT IT IN PUBLIC OR NOT! AND YOU! THERE! MY WHOLE GODDAM COUNTRY IS A FREE SPEECH ZONE SO SUCK IT YOU’RE NOT IN BEIJING ANYMORE!” and equally pointed words to those effects.

Although it was cool when my boy Bono said “No Olympics on Stolen Land” in the concert to which I didn’t buy a ticket to because I assumed, wrongly, that they’d be too expensive. Which they were not, and serves me right for not investigating, but oh well, such is the cost of pessimism.

So, as I remarked over at Trueslant, my ability to get past the politicking to connect emotionally with the actual sports and internationalism has been crippled (yes, deliberate word choice, suck it). Then again, apathy is a national characteristic, so maybe I’m just being a Good Canadian.

So, it was both nice and remarkable that, given all that backstory, Michael and Sam decided to pick me as one of the 2 bloggers to get a ride-along today (the other was the (in)famous John Chow) but they did (boy, I sure snookered them, didn’t I, and now I’m gonna hear from all the “billiards” PC-ists, aren’t I oh yes I am).

So, behold the live-tweeted timeline of a conversion. I’m really, truly grateful to them for inviting me along, because not even a cynic like me can resist seeing, say, 10,000 people in a single block in Deep Cove, all dressed in red and white and cheering their semifrozen faces off and freakin’ cowbelling like their lives depended on it.

Cherry Blossoms on the DTES

Stuck in traffic behind #Olympic torch on The Reservation in North Van can’t see a darn thing

@JohnChow we will see you soon. Why didn’t they pick speedy runners? Even I can run this fast!

Olympic Torch Traffic Dollarton Highway North Vancouver

Pretty thrilling, no? #Olympic #van2010 http://twitpic.com/12fbe0

@lussobaby yes the cherryblossoms behind Firehall Theatre are always the first in the city

Well @michaelallison says he can see the flame! Good eyes http://twitpic.com/12fd4n

Listening to thestory of how the #Olympic caravan saved a disabled driver who went off the road in Renfrew Ont thx to OnStar

RT @VANobserver RT @MargaretAtwood: Striking a blow for free speech: Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran http://tinyurl.com/yek2qag Yikes!

Coca Cola is the longest running #Olympic sponsor

Convoy vehicles are called Happy1 Happy2 Loonie and Toonie. How Canadian is that? Kids are all cheering the Coke trucks looking 4 freebies!

2techs and 5 detailers 110 vehicles altogether, over half are GM #Olympic #van2010

We are rolling with the #Olympic #van2010 torch

Um we just passed the torch. Are we supposed to do that? http://twitpic.com/12fl1g

Olympic Torch Crowd in Dollarton, North Vancouver


Ha @johnchow is driving the crowd wild yelling “you’re on YouTube!” #Olympic #van2010

In Dollarton abt 5 minutes ahead of the #Olympic #van2010 torch. Now I know how U2‘s warmup act feels

[seriously, it’s like we know you’re wondering who the hell we are, but YAY, huh?]

Cowbell! #Olympic #van2010

Apparently schools go wild and so do some malls when they see the #Olympic #van2010 torch but Dollarton is too dignified

In Saskatchewan some ppl wheeled their granny out to see the #Olympic #van2010 torch and sstuck her right in the middle of the tracks!

3schools ina row coming up

I’m finally learning how this whole RELAY thing works #Olympic #van2010

Awesome job the announcers have whipping up the crowd for 110 straight days. WOO! Cowbell #Olympic #van2010 #olympics

@OkanaganWriting I’m riding with one of the GM guys and he says half [of the vehicles are GM]

Somebody is ringing the churchbell and someone else is waving a Molsons box! #Olympic #van2010 #olympics http://twitpic.com/12fokt [missed the picture, sadly; t’was funny]

@busybeeblogger It IS fun, I’m really glad I got the chance

@jeremylim you can ask I guess. They picked me out of thinair as far as I know [in reply to the obvious “how do I get in on that ridealong action question]

@WoundedCrane are they fancy? [she said she wanted Swiss cowbells for her dogs; I thought maybe Swiss House had special commemorative cowbells, or at least commemorative cows]

Olympic Torchbearer Deep Cove

Torchbearer http://twitpic.com/12fpeu

Cheers #van2010 #olympics #olympics http://moby.to/rqf86o

More cheers and now Journey on the stereo. Hair bands ftw http://moby.to/3j7ce5

Holycrap people actually singing along. That never happens in Canada #van2010 #olympics http://twitpic.com/12fqiw

Deep Cove on Olympic Torch Route

[another sunny day in Deep Cove]

Deep Cove #van2010 #olympics http://twitpic.com/12fqtx

The royal bank was giving out noisemakers and boy howdy are ppl using them. But I do think cowbells win #van2010 (cont) http://tl.gd/87jop

Deep Cove Crowd on Olympic Torch Route


Cowichan Sweater

Somebody just yelled Nice Coat at me. Real Cowichan FTW! #van2010 #olympics http://twitpic.com/12fs8t

@yurechko I’m with @michaelallison and @johnchow

@WoundedCrane deep cove [in response to “where are you that it’s raining?]

@jeremylim thanks you will get there [in response to “Nonsense. You’re highly prolific and very much loved. Wish I were the same so I could get in that van!”]

John chow says 300m is one Vegas block and I say 2 furlongs we all have diff frames of reference #van2010 #olympics

@WilcoxPR thx 4 the rt. 10,000 ppl in deep cove on just 2 blocks [the PR agency behind the ride-along starts contributing to the convo]

Explaining the Raven pub to my carmates for #van2010 [specifically, their Stupid Hot Wings. Story goes; they have 5 levels of heat, and if you can eat the Stupid Hot Wings plate, your whole meal is free. Nobody’s ever won. Waitress says “why do you think they’re called STUPID hot?]

raincoaster Art and John Chow from the Olympic Torch Ride Along

RT GM_ArtAndSerge @raincoaster and @johnchow with Art! http://tweetphoto.com/10968091

@WilcoxPR loved it, thanks 4 making the ridealong happen. Now I’m off to blog it

RT vanmediacoop upcoming – VIVO media arts “evening news” events to discuss Olympics, convergence, media & movements http://bit.ly/a2yrHt #report2010

Olympic Torch Coke Bottles

I have NO collector’s sensibility. #Olympic swag commemorative aluminum Caffeinated Swag cracked. I’m thirsty! http://tweetphoto.com/10980949

Eh Voila!

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Olympic Mural Rises Again

crying room original olympic mural

original photo by The Blackbird

Have you seen this mural?

Not recently, you haven’t, because it was removed on the orders of Vancouver City Hall, which is apparently in the business of making sure the Olympic Committee don’t get their feelings hurt, rather than in the business of defending the rights of Canadians to the free expression guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The gallery says in 10 years, it has never before been asked to remove any work.

The city issued the order under its graffiti bylaw, but it comes in the wake of a debate over a controversial city sign bylaw that opponents feared would allow officials to stifle anti-Olympic expression.

“It was pretty clear to me that it was because of the context of the work,” says Colleen Heslin, who runs the Crying Room, a small studio focusing on emerging artists.

Ms. Heslin points out that over the years she has hung about 30 murals there, and has never had any trouble. She has also used that space as a giant chalkboard, allowing passersby to write or draw whatever they wanted (which included swear words) and was never asked to remove that either.

In fact, when her landlord, Peter Wong, received a notice from the city telling him to remove the graffiti from his building, he had no idea what they were talking about. “I called them and said I cannot find the graffiti. And they said the sign [the mural] is graffiti…”

Patrick Smith, director of Simon Fraser University’s Institute of Governance Studies, said the removal of the sign is symptomatic of the high demands the “Olympic movement” places on its host cities. He believes Vancouver will be the beginning of a shift away from the modern Olympic era, with communities saying the cost of hosting is too high.

“A lot is asked of communities, and it seems to me this is a perfectly good example of where we’ve gone too far,” he said. “There’s no other way to describe it other than overreaction, but it’s the city trying to protect a brand that’s not the city’s brand. It’s the Olympic movement’s brand.”

Malcolm asked if the one in the bottom right-hand corner was Gregor Robertson.

And there was mourning throughout the land, or at least the Downtown Eastside. Even the revered and untouchable Globe and Mail, which had at first featured the image in its article, got out the virtual putty knives and scraped it right off their website, and the bittersweet little mural was removed from the face of the Earth AND the Googleplex.

But not for long, for over on Facebook a spontaneous, outraged movement started, a movement with sharpie-inscribed samizdat tee shirts and all manner of Olympic Mural as Facebook Profile Pic mayhem, and soon, just like in Peter Pan when Tink is dying and you clap your hands to save her (you DO clap your hands, don’t you? And ring a bell at Christmas, so an angel gets its wings? Of course you do, because you don’t want me to come over there and give your sorry motherfucking ass the beat-down), the heartfelt wishes of the good little boys and girls and the undecideds notthatthere’sanythingwrongwiththat all over the Downtown Eastside were heard and the mural rose again.

Here it is as of now:

Crying Room Olympic Mural Dec 13 2009

And, for as long as it lasts, you can see it in my Flickr stream, in my Facebook photos, on this blog, and at Main and Cordova.

As far as I can tell, it’s the original piece, with a little bit of touching up around the smiley face.

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Open House: BOB Coworking Space Saves Digital Nomad from Homicidal Rage

come to the dark side we have cookies

We also have an Open House this coming Friday, December 18th, from noon onwards
163 East Pender Street, Vangroover, BC
and yes, we DO have cookies. Or at least apple tarts.

Speaking of which:

Donations to the Food Bank encouraged.
There are some great suggestions for practical, welcome donations in my post at Miss604.
If I do say so myself.

Here’s Muskie’s much-more-dignified article on the new coworking space at BOB. If you prefer your news with a side of funky, read on here.

After months of digital nomadism (entirely overrated, thanks for the brainwashing, Fast Company!) bravely trekking my gear from web cafe to web cafe, always seeking that elusive chair with a view, a plug, free wifi, decent coffee, and at least one sturdy wall between me and any obviously dangerous lunatics, I’ve finally found a home.

And no, I won’t get Dooced this time. We already worked that out. “We don’t really care if you say anything nasty about us” is sort of a precondition of working with me, as some of you may have noticed.

I’ve found my new home just down the street from my house; in fact, it’s between my house and the Irish Heather, which pretty much guarantees I’ll drop in from time to time and get some work done. It’s on the ground floor of the offices of BOB, Building Opportunities for Business, which basically exists to attract and support business on the Downtown Eastside without displacing, well, the people who live here.

Like me.

So, BOB is my homeboy, and he could be your homeboy too, since there are 20 19 18 spaces left for people looking for a great place to work on their own stuff. In the tradition of the late, lamented Workspace, the BOB co-working space (which really needs a snappier name and I’ll get on that as soon as I’ve settled in) offers a variety of free-range desk space, a kitchen, a lounge area up front with a window seat (DIBS! DIBS!), some funky local art on the walls, secure bike storage, and all that a young genius might require in the way of whiteboards, projectors, inspirational company, etc. It’s fully accessible for the handicapped, and the ceiling is lofty enough that you could, without inconveniencing anyone on the ground level, comfortably house a family of tented Bedouin nomads on the ceiling, camels and all, provided they didn’t mind being upside-down.

I guess they’d have to be Australian Bedouins, then. But anyway…

The amenities, etcetera:

Access to the coworking space at all hours from 9am up until I decide it’s time for me to go home (and we all know that normally happens around sunrise) with a desk, wifi, and use of common areas like kitchen, bike parking and lounge: $200 per month. The layout was designed by grad students from Stanford, if memory serves, for maximum Satori-nosity and efficient use of space, which means basically if somebody sneezes no-one ELSE has to shower knowwhatimean?

It’s also available for meetings and special events, which is I believe $300 a day standard rate, or $200 for nonprofits, or if you’ve got a compelling reason for BOB to want your event in their space, pitch them. Or me. Because they are me and I am he and we are all together.

John Lennon i am the lolrus

We’re looking at installing lockers, which would be available for a small extra fee. There are no assigned desks; you move around to where you feel comfortable and there’s room on any particular day. And a coffeemaker is on the way, although buying the coffee is up to the coworkers: shall we collectivise? or shall I just take that over and call up Guido the Collections officer to make sure everyone puts some coins in the tin?

An espresso machine is being discussed, but no guarantees yet.

BUT…here’s the best part. Which is sort of the worst part, but bear with me.

The entire space is going to be taken over for an art project during the Cultural Olympiad. This means that working there will not be possible. So, why should you sign up now if you’ll have to go back to that crappy coffee shop for the entire month of February?

Because if you do sign up, you won’t be charged until March. And if there’s room for you upstairs during February, you can work at a spare desk in the BOB offices, just like a real BOBie. And if you do sign up for a 6-month stint, raincoaster here gets a small donation to the “anger management pharmacopia” and becomes, ever so slightly, more Sandra Bullock and less Joan Crawford.

So come by on Friday and say hi and eat all the free food and drop off your own donation to the Food Bank; cash or noms accepted.

funny pictures of cats with captions

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Olympic Disappointment

With posters like this:

Olympic poster 1912

I think I can hardly be blamed for getting my hopes up. Naturally (inevitably) I was disappointed when, once again, the tentacled shot put failed to make it as even a mere exhibition sport.

I’d show him where to put it, that’s for sure!

Olympic Scandal: Faux BoJo, or No?

Boris Johnson waves the Olympic flag or IS it Boris Johnson???

Another Olympic scandal tops the headlines this morning as it is revealed that, in a substitution reminiscent of the opening ceremony’s switched songstresses and faux fireworks, London Mayor Boris Johnson did not, in fact, attend the closing ceremony at all, but instead was replaced by a sophisticated computer-generated animation.

Bojo gone Olympics, or is it really so?

This shocking swap was insisted upon by the Olympic organizers, who had substantial reservations about Mr. Johnson‘s ability to accept and wave the flag without falling down, offending several of the participating nations, or fatally wounding a spectator in a misguided, yet historically correct, attempt to re-create one of the bloodier Olympic events of the Classical Age. After all, the Mayor’s track record is a very public one indeed.

Bojo in typical mode

The artificial Boris was, in fact, a compromise reached between the organizers and the British delegation. Originally, the Olympic ceremony management had planned to simply replace Mr. Johnson with a more attractive, dramatically-trained, lip-synching version of the same type.

Cary Elwes would do in a pinch. He could pinch me any time!

It is understood that many in the Mayor’s own office have approached the Olympic organizers for permission to continue to use the replicant back home.