2.12.2010

enjoy it!

i live in vancouver, so i guess this post isn't going to come as a surprise. it seems to be the thing on everyone's mind. the olympics.

i swear it was only a few months ago that the city voted (or were asked to vote, i guess) and agreed that we wanted the games . in truth it was years ago now. the signs of their impending arrival were subtle at first, a new building being built, or a billboard, but then it became hard to miss. these days there isn't one bus stop poster or roadside ad that isn't olympic related. most of the buildings downtown are dressed up and ready to sell. they are here, there is no doubt.

i haven't really been affected personally. i live on the east side of town away from the action and although there is a venue at the university that has caused some rerouting for me, by and large i haven't been negatively affected, or positively either. which has been a bit disappointing. i think i thought that the energy would be so infection that you wouldn't be able to miss it, and although i understand that it may have proved true for some people, i have definitely had to go looking for it.

it was because of this that i was delighted to learn that the torch would be travelling down broadway last night at the exact hour which i had to kill before meeting friends for dinner. i browsed the used bookstore and watched as the crowds gathered by the dozens, and then hundreds. everyone was wearing red and white, people had their dogs wrapped in flags, or maple leaves painted on their cheeks. there was an energy, it was hard to deny. i started to wonder if i had tissue in my bag, it was looking like i was going to need it ( i cry when the national anthem is sung at hockey games). and then the start of the torch parade arrived and everything changed.

if you live in canada and went to see it, then this isn't a new story. i was taken aback anyway. there was a hippie on the patio sipping a beer behind me, he told his friend that it felt wrong to be watching this but he felt compelled anyway. it only took a moment before he picked up his beer and went back inside without saying another word. somethings can't be apologized away. you see, the actual torch is proceded by a commerce parade. first comes two rather large heavily branded coca cola trucks that are belting out some base heavy music with young people yip and yapping off the side, the announcer yelling into the air something about the history of the torch and then ending with a reminder that coke is a proud sponsor of the olmpic games. it was so overt and deliberate, it felt dirty. i started to look around at everyone wearing canadian colours and all i could see were coke bottles. it was depressing.

i realize that this complaint isn't a revelation. the olympics have long been more about selling something than celebrating any true human experience, but to witness all these people filled with a genuine sense of community, something i almost never see anymore, and then to have it infected with reality. it was no good.

not to lessen the experience, as to be fair, after the rbc dance party truck passed out all their plastic branded paraphernalia and drove on, and we came to the actual torch that was passed from one unbranded human hand to to another it had a certain magic to it, a connection with something larger. and it was worth it. i wish it didn't have to have everything else though.

tomorrow night i am going downtown to try and catch an outdoor concert. i am looking forward to immersing myself in it all. the crowds, the excitement, the happiness, it is going to be there, right? i have always been in the anti camp, like so many vancouverites i don't think it was the right thing for us in this economy and with our social problems. this isn't a unique opinion, it seems more people feel this way than the other. i have decided though, since it is here and done, that i should allow myself to be open for something great.

wish me luck!

2 comments:

cheesefairy said...

Maybe I am too jaded but I didn't feel affected by the commercial aspect of the torch relay. I have never been able to see the Olympics as a Celebration of Sport because it's always been shrouded in commercials, sponsors, last-year's-gold-medalist-now-shilling-yogurt-to-make-a-living-ness.

And I always have my guard up and I refuse to be moved to tears by a coke commercial.

But people are indeed Cranky about this. The librarian went on about it for 10 minutes the other day when I was just browsing with the kids. I wonder what they expected. I guess magic...that moment you describe with the torch going from human hand to human hand.

Have fun tonight! I think you will.

miranda said...

i've been in the anti/apathetic camp for as long as i can remember this process being around us, for those same reasons. but we live right in the middle of it all and it's hard not to get swept up in the community excitement - the shared experience and the patriotism and togetherness of it all. i do wish it didn't involve so much fucking coca cola though - i mean, seriously. we went on the last possible day to see the torch, and the crowd that came to watch it was amazing, but the brouhaha of dancing ding dongs and carbonated sugar that preceded it felt so tacky and overt and intended-to-brainwash.

i hope you find things that move you in the best ways.