Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Miscellany

In the spirit of gearing up for the holiday season, here is a miscellany of thoughts based on recent local and global headlines that have grabbed my attention:

1. “I wonder if Carla Bruni can get me a walk-on in Woody Allen’s new film?”/ “I bet Nelson Mandela will be pissed.”/ “What’s everyone so worked up about? It’s not like I head-butted anyone.”: Possible thoughts running through French football captain Thierry Henry’s head following revelations he committed a handball violation in advance of the winning goal in a World Cup qualifying match with Ireland.

2. With friends like these…: Poor Richard Colvin—nothing like going from a respected high-level diplomat to a government pariah overnight. PM Harper and his various minions were lining up to outdo each other in heaping scorn on the former point man in Afghanistan for testifying before a parliamentary committee that his emails warning that Taliban detainees transferred from Canadian to Afghan custody faced likely torture were ignored. And how would we know anyway, given the mostly blacked-out versions of those emails that have been provided to the committee, and to the media? (Actually, the resurfacing of the detainee issue, coming on the heels of Henry's World Cup imbroglio, reminded me a lot of my chapter on David Beckham and Tony Kushner in my forthcoming book with Manchester UP. I'd say more about how, exactly, I connect football with Afghanistan in the context of my larger argument about performance, place, and politics in the book, but I'd rather you buy a copy instead! It's out at the beginning of February, but you can pre-order--apologies for the exorbitant UK academic pricing--here.)

3. “Okay, I’ll go. But I’m not going to have fun, and I’m not going to talk to anyone.”: Stephen Harper commits to attending upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen after Barack Obama and China’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, announce they’re going. Unlike Obama and Wen, however, Harper will arrive with no concrete pledge from Canada to cut carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. One doesn’t hold out much hope for some sort of universally ratified post-Kyoto protocol emerging from the Copenhagen meetings, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Harper will at least be shamed into coming on side with Obama. (As a side note to this item, one wonders if our famously grumpy PM is even more out of sorts these days because of the rumours swirling that motorcycle-riding wife Laureen may be about to dump him for her RCMP boy-toy. They have not been traveling together recently, and she has been spotted sans wedding ring in several recent photos…)

4. What Mayor Gregor giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other: Okay, so City Hall has backed down on its ridiculous proposal regarding the ratio of food and alcohol pricing in Vancouver restaurants. And it has also amended its anti-Olympic sign bylaw to apply only to commercial properties. But the same municipal government that is spending feverishly to gussy up the city in advance of the Olympics is also slashing public library budgets (forcing several branches to slash hours and one perhaps to close permanently), and closing popular amenities like the petting farm in Stanley Park and the Bloedel Conservatory atop Queen Elizabeth Park. Meanwhile, the nearby Little Mountain social housing community is officially no more, razed by bulldozers (with a little help from a freak blaze that erupted one afternoon) this past month. What happens next is anyone’s guess because BC Housing, the provincial agency mandated to ensure a provision of replacement subsidized housing in the redevelopment of the site, claims that a confidential non-disclosure agreement prevents it from releasing details of the contract of purchase and sale that is being negotiated with private partner Holborn Properties. With the official Olympic curling venue only a block away, and all available space around Nat Bailey Stadium already spoken for, who says that they can’t—at least in the short-term, pave paradise and put up a parking lot?

5. Yeah, but only until the end of March: My reaction upon reading that VANOC CEO John Furlong topped the list of Vancouver magazine’s Power 50 issue.

6. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet: I was sorry I couldn’t get to the Wrecking Ball event at the Vogue on Monday (work and life conspired to intervene). But I was please to hear—courtesy PuSh Managing Director Minna Schendlinger at a Board retreat last weekend—that Kevin Krueger had received so many emails protesting the cuts to arts and culture in the province, that his ministry account had recently crashed. Apparently his staff has quietly put out the word, via the Alliance for Arts and Culture, asking members of the community to stop sending emails, that the message has been heard. Of course we’ve all interpreted this as license to send even more!

That’s it for now. Back next month (which is Tuesday!) with what I hope will be more performance reviews. The new Murakami play; Headlines Theatre’s After homelessness…; EDAM’s new program; MachineNoisy at the Dance Centre: all things I want to see.


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