Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who Needs Year End Lists When You've Got Comments Like This?



I've been making muttered noises under my on-line breath about my next 'project' for quite a while now.

In fact, the Two E's (pictured above) and me have already slogged our way through a few warm-up sessions in preparation for it's imminent arrival, which we've decided to call 'Our Year of Busking Dangerously'.


As per usual, Paul Willcocks has been paying attention to all this guitar-whispering.

As a result, Paul left a comment downthread that flummoxed me because it says absolutely everything about why I want to give this thing a try.

And more:

"My partner got her busking licence last spring.

We had an accordion around last December, holding it for return to its rightful owner. She played - wronghanded for a while - then bought her own and played more and then took to the streets.

What she liked was that people enjoyed, but didn't watch like it was a recital. She also liked playing on docks and in parks by the water.

The best, I think, was on a spring road trip in the RV.

We hiked in Yosemite, then went to Death Valley. She headed into the desert at sunset to play. After a while, a father and grown son appeared out of the brush to listen. Their wife and mother had died 10 years earlier of cancer. She loved the desert, and they hadn't been able to come back to Death Valley until then. They had just scattered her ashes and then heard the accordion drifting on the wind and followed the sound. They stood and listened to three or four songs as the sun went down."



Heckfire, I don't want no stinking crowds.

Instead, I just want to play with my two kids before they get too old and/or too smart to partake in any of my ridiculous obsessions anymore.

I also want to have a chance, while strumming, throw them a smile and a not-so-all-knowing-wink while we strain to hit a harmony that only we can hear.

And if one single, solitary kindred spirit stops by to offer up a nod or even just a quick tap the toe for a moment or two before moving on.....


That will be the icing on the best homemade cake ever.


Update: Mr. Willcocks' partner, Jody Paterson has an Op-Ed piece in the the Victoria Times-Colonist today that just about says it all. I wrote the bit of flim-flammery above before I read Ms. Paterson's fantastic story of music and magic and the sheer joy of having your kids do it with you. Read her story, in full, here.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knock, Knock, Knockin' On Mic Christopher's Door


Mr. Christopher and Mr. Hansard 'Once' busked on Dublin's Grafton St in the old, and the not-so old, days. Before he died, tragically, in the fall of 2001, Mic, too, played at the Valmez campfire with the Irglovas and friends earlier that year.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

If You Could Go Back....


To those Red Brick-Walled Schoolyards of your youth...

To re-live them a little....

But mostly to tell those teachers that mattered most how much they really meant to you.

Could you possibly do that...

Any better....




If I could, I'd do that for Mrs. Griffiths in heartbeat.

Or less.

And if you want to hear about how Mr. Hansard really and truly met a very young Ms. Irglova by opening his art to her way before the opening of the hearts, listen to this. And if you want to see and hear a bit of both, watch this.
And with that, I'm off to the dogpark to begin Week 2 of my new project.....'My Year Of Busking Dangerously'...


Thursday, December 03, 2009

VANOC's 'Gentle' Reminder To Their Contracted Artists


Regarding VANOC's gag-clause on contracted artists that we mentioned a couple of days ago, here is the exact wording, from a recent editorial in the Edmonton Journal:

...."The artist shall at all times refrain from making any negative or derogatory remarks respecting VANOC (the organizing committee), the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Olympic movement generally, Bell and/or other sponsors associated with VANOC."....

The depth and breadth of the censorship here is breathtaking.

Because it's not just the Olympics that cannot not be commented upon in either derogatory or 'negative' (wtf?) terms.

In addition, this makes it clear that no artist shall besmirch the Olympic movement 'generally'.

What the heckfire does that mean - no dissing ancient Athenians? Or Kip Keino's bare feet? Or Eddie the Eagle's glasses? Or the IOC's Supreme Sommander in, say, 1928?'

And 'Bell' and/or other 'sponsors' associated with VANOC?

Does that mean that if an artist, say, found a dead mouse in their bottle of soda that they not be allowed to comment on such an event 'negatively'.

But the real kicker here is that artists are also not allowed to say anything bad about the organizers themselves.....

What kind of crock is this? Is this supposed to protect VANOC from terrorists? From a drop in their stock price? From future earnings? From young kids in face paint who do impov while speaking "Ig-pay Atin-lay"?

This is truly insane.



In Marsha Lederman's original Globe piece, which broke this story originally, she quoted the VANOC/Cultural Olympiad program director thusly, after a contracted arts group suggested that there was a link between Olympic over-expenditures and massive cuts to provincial arts programs:

"We were a little surprised, but we didn't put any handcuffs on anybody. It was more a question of, is the artist still comfortable being a part of it."


If not handcuffs, what, exactly, did VANOC actually slap on the arts group concerned.

Well, here's the story according to the E. Journal editorial (which, we should point out, basically just expands on the original Lederman piece):

"....Radix Theatre, one of 12 companies performing in an Olympics event, had the temerity to criticize recent draconian, widely criticized arts funding cuts by the B.C. government. While celebrating HIVE, its Games event, it suggested that "massive overrides in Olympic expenditures" were arguably to blame for the recent government slashing, which is entirely possible.

That comment, contained in its newsletter, drew a self-described "gentle reminder" from VANOC about the need to keep commentary separate from the logo of the Cultural Olympiad...."


Radix received a 'gentle reminder' from the funding organization that is essentially the only game in town in the entire province of British Columbia for arts groups these days that was backed by the viscious little piece of multi-pronged censorship that it is explicit in the contract clause quoted above.

Given all that, was this 'reminder' not more like a 'gentle' tightening of the hang-man's noose around Radix' neck rather than a simple case of handcuffs being slapped on their wrists?

As for the rest of us?

Well, the E. Journal editorial put it this way in their lede:

"It seems like an awful relic from China's Cultural Revolution, but the sad truth is that government-imposed loyalty pledges are still in force. This week, artists have begun to protest contracts that muzzle them from uttering anything the leadership deems "negative." Is this Iran we're talking about?Myanmar? Somalia?

Actually, it's happening right now in Vancouver -- to Canadians secured to work in the Cultural Olympics festival of the 2010 Games......"

This is not a good thing.

It is not lost on us that the original Lederman piece appeared in a Bell-owned media organ, to which we say good on Patrick Brethour and/or whoever else at the Globe made sure that the story made it into both print and pixels.
It is also not lost on us that nothing like the Edmonton Journal editorial has been printed in the pages of the Vancouver dailies that are also part of the CanWest stable. And there are no excuses here because it was reprinted in the Regina Leader-Post.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Five Ringed Circus: Police State v. Free Press, Part Deux


Well, well, well.....

It looks like the interrogation, by Canadian border guards, of American Independent journalist Amy Goodman, which was 'allegedly' all about what she was going to 'say' about the Olympics in a speech at the Vancouver Public Library, has led to a little bit of bigtime proMedia blow-back for the Circus.

First there's all the stuff by Ms. Goodman herself over at her program, Democracy Now.


And the HuffPo.

And the CBC (with, yes, more than 700 comments)

And even the BellGlobeCTVTSNRDSCHUMAndEverythingElseYouCanThinkOfMedia-owned Globe and (nolongerEmpire)Mail.

But here's the real thing.

As was kinda/sorta noted late-comer to the party David Beers in The Tyee, the wurlitzering of this story started in the local Bloggodome.

And, to be more specific, the local INDEPENDENT (ie. non-turf-toe) Bloggodome (and yes, we're looking at you Spamaloteers).



Five Ringed Circus: VANOC v. Artists


Marsha Lederman of the BellGlobeCTVTSNRDSCHUMEverythingElseYouCanThinkOfMedia Empire had the story last week:

The arts-festival portion of the 2010 Olympics risks sliding into a squabble over free speech, as artists who signed on to be part of the Cultural Olympiad learn of a clause in their contracts that prohibits negative comments about the Games and its corporate sponsors.

Some artists contacted by The Globe and Mail, along with organizers of other Olympic and Commonwealth Games cultural events, called the requirement unusual and disturbing. Several artists didn't realize they had signed such an undertaking.

"This is Canada. I can't believe that we're being asked to limit our comments to the press," said Andrew Laurenson, artistic director of Vancouver's Radix Theatre, whose critical comments about arts funding and the Olympics have drawn the attention of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).....


Wonder who Our Neil would be singing for if he were to come to the Circus....

As for Jeff Tweedy?

Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Update: Silent running reader Big-(notso)-Audible-Deen-O-Mite has noted that Ms. Lederman's follow-up indicates that VANOC is kinda/sorta standing by its gag-a-clause by saying they have no intention of using it, so why worry.....Ha!


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Five Ringed Circus: Police State v. Eagles


Have you ever gone to Squamish to watch the swooping and diving of the bald eagles?

If not, you may want to check out a volunteer program by the Squamish Environment Society called Eagle Watch.


You'll have to do that online before you leave, because this year, unlike past years, you will not be able to get any information while on the road from Eagle Watch's banner that they normally put up on the Sea-To-The-Pie-In-The-Sky Highway.

Why not?

Because VANOC, which now apparently controls everything, won't let Eagle Watch put up their banner.

I kid you not - Zoe Szuch, in the Squamish Chief, has the story:

The spectacular sight of hundreds upon hundreds of bald eagles descending on local waterways to feed on salmon will soon return to the Government Road Eagle Viewing Dike – and this year, eagle count numbers are expected to surpass disappointing numbers of the past.

“It is a totally amazing sight,” said Bruce Matthews, a co-ordinator for the Eaglewatch Volunteer Interpreter Program. “This year, we’ve had a really good pink run, Coho run and a good chum run, so this is the first time in three years that we’re going to have good eagle numbers.”

Typically, upwards of 7,000 visitors could also be seen at the Eagle Viewing Dike across from the Easter Seal Camp over the most intense two-month period of eagle activity. However despite the anticipated increase in eagles, Matthews fears visitor numbers could be significantly lower than the past because of curtailed marketing options.

He said VANOC and the Ministry of Transportation, would not allow the non-profit organization to hang an eagle-themed banner over Highway 99 for the month of January to inform travellers of the spectacular sight.

“It doesn’t make any sense that they have the right to say that there can’t be any banners along the side of the road,” he said. “It’s not an advertising banner. It says ‘The eagles have arrived,’ December to January.”

Matthews has not been given a reason why the banner can’t fly, but he believes it could greatly hinder the amount of tourists who stop in town for the day....."


Is it possible that a corporation, say a corporation that sells, I dunno, clothing for the smart-set, has signed an exclusive 'Eagle' contract with the Circus?

Set the birds free!

Original link source: The always standing on guard for both we and thee, Great Aunty Bertha.


Is Mr. Harper Setting Up A Few Of Our Finest To Take The Fall?


Mark Richard Francis, writing at Section 15, makes an excellent point:

".... As I outlined yesterday (Harper risks denigrating our soldiers) and as many others have done too, the Roveian theme that to investigate the growing Afghanistan detention scandal is to not support our troops is being repeated by the Conservatives at every turn

The Conservatives run the risk of having their falsehoods be believed by Canadians. Their falsehoods about the Liberals is not what I mean. It's their falsehoods about who can be held responsible for any detainee torture. If it comes to pass that the scandal leads somewhere, the optics forced by Harper may lead Canadians to believe that our troops are responsible, when, in reality, the fault can be found back in Ottawa...."


If such a terrible thing were to come to pass it is, unfortunately, becoming increasingly difficult for reasonable Canadians who have watched the Mr. Harper et al. repeatedly demonize anyone who gets in their way for the sake of political expediency not to ask themselves the following question....

...Would a well-placed leak be used to invoke the 'ultimate hangout' by pinning the blame on a few bad Grangeresque apples, either real or imagined?

And if, despite the track record of the Conservatives, that question is still too over the top for you, you may wish to consider the fact that, as Mr. Francis also points out, it was Mr. Harper's former chief strategist and confidant Tom Flanagan who once said:

"It doesn't have to be true, it just has to be plausible...."