Je suis Canadien. On the final day of the 2010 Winter Olympics we all felt a little Canadian inside each of us. During a time when the people of a country can easily close off their borders and hang “Canadians Only” signs or display an attitude of “this is our party you were only invited”, too often have the people of this land boiling over with national pride opened their arms, their homes and their lives to this fella from south of the border for me not to feel a little Canadian inside me. Sure I cheered every American athlete with hopes for a medal finish, and I don’t feel bad that even without an “Own the Podium” campaign (which is what the Canadian Olympic Committee coined their efforts to win the most medals in 2010) we actually owned the podium for the first time since 1932. And I thank the dismal showing by the Russian team for opening up so many medal opportunities. At the same time, there was no way I could not help but celebrate the Canadian hockey victory with my new fellow Canadians. If you were here to see how much passion this country has for the sport of hockey and how much they wanted this victory… there is no way you would want to deny them this chance either. I had the same feelings during the World Baseball Classic when I was in Japan. Crowds gathered outside of storefronts and restaurants to view televisions broadcasting the games inside. On the over crowded public transportation buses and trains, people would return a bump or an elbow in the back with a “what did you think of the game last night” instead of a sour face. These countries don’t just yearn for a victory they cheer from the streets in hopes their encouragement will lift the team to victory. As I witnessed a country ravenous for hockey gold, I imagined Americans flipping through channels of reality television with no clue of the importance of this moment for their neighbors. So as the hockey game neared the end of regulation I cheered the game-tying goal as much as any average American (not nearly equal to he anguish the Canadian felt) and then I secretly wished for a Canadian win in overtime. Because for a short moment in time… je suis Canadien.
USA scores game-tying goal with only seconds remaining in regulation. Canadian (and a couple of American) fans react outside of the Molson Canadian Hockey House.
The parade of athletes during the 2010 Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony. That is USA with the white pants and hiking boots… I know.
Neil Young performing “Long May You Run” at the Closing Ceremony. A very fitting and somewhat melancholy song as the Olympic Flame was extinguished as Canadians and athletes all across Vancouver wondered “what do we do next?”.
A few nights ago my roommate was awesome enough to get us tickets to the Olympic Victory Ceremony featuring INXS . Yes… INXS. The band that filled stadiums throughout the 80s and made music videos back when MTV played music videos. Lead singer Michael Hutchence was the inspiration of many to grow out there hair, date supermodels, live life in front of super-sized crowds, burn life at both ends and have Bono write a song about our death (Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of). For those of us in Kentucky it was a life so far away. So we just grew our hair to medium lengths, dated local theatre girls, played sports in front of our half filled bleachers, burned it at one end and kept living the pursuit of happiness. Of course Michael and the golden years of INXS left us a long time ago. But there are moments, like those at the Victory Ceremony or a summer night drive with “Never Will Tear Us Apart” on the radio, that remind us of our former greatness and the potential left in all of us.
Before the INXS show we witnessed one of Canada’s best winter sport athletes, Clara Hughes, receive her final Olympic medal (bronze in the 5,000M speed skate). A nice moment in a country full of nice people. I know people say that all the time… but Canadians are truly a nice group of folks. Just steer clear of adolescent drunks in the street after a Canadian hockey loss. Those are not the moments nor the representatives you need to pass judgment on a nation.
If you walk around Vancouver these days you will see a city decorated in a veil of teal and green. Not that they are hiding anything on the Eastside, instead it is evidence that the Olympics are in town. When the Olympics come to down they like to take over, brand activation at its finest. Case in point… Visa. Sure you see their “Go World” campaign everywhere, but also, all official Olympic stores only accept Visa or cash. But aside from some of that silliness there is a great vibe in town and the Olympic spirit is alive and well. On weekend nights the city fills with revelers watching the games action projected upon some pretty creative places (like the Sears resembling a space ship) and enjoying a wide range of music and street entertainment. Here area few daytime scenes from a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. That night Alex Bilodeau won Canadian gold for the first time on Canadian soil and the city glowed with pride.
Today starts the I Heart Van Art festival, which showcases art and culture from Vancouver. Over the next 15 days the Yaletown neighborhood will be littered with musicians, visual artists, dancers and performers. I’ll try to post some photos along the way.
This long overdue post is an update of my goings on. Were to start? How about a quick overview and a teaser photo?
A few months ago, December 29th to be exact, I flew back to Idaho from the holidays in New York City and Kentucky. My flight was a little delayed and we landed in the cold air of Spokane, WA sometime approaching midnight. This delay was not the best of things for my schedule as I needed to be driving out of town, to Vancouver at 4 AM the following morning. And my little white Tacoma had been sitting in the sub-freezing temperatures of Coeur d’ Alene for about three weeks. Luckily, the following morning, the ignition turned over after a few attempts. So I gave her about 40 minutes to warm up before we made our way our of across the US-Canada border via the Peace Arch crossing.
The border check took a little longer than expected. Because of my honesty when answering the border guard’s questions I was asked to park and “go inside for further questioning”. They must not trust guys whose permanent address is somewhere between a Texas PO Box, an address in Idaho and some stamps in the ole passport. Yeah, I guess that does not sound very permanent. Then take into account that my professional title is somewhere between photographer, consultant, event producer and general do-gooder. Then keep in mind that I don’t have a hotel reservation or special event tickets, or anything showing proof of what I am doing in Canada. Put this all together and imagine the look of confusion in the border guards eyes and you can see me pulling off to the side to “go inside for more questioning”. Guess next time I will just say I am here to sleep in the woods for a month and eat dried berries.
My first 24-hoursday was a whirlwind of activity: job interview, currency exchange, meeting up with my Vancouver host (Cat), metric conversions, dinner, saying goodbye to my Tacoma for another three weeks (read about Cats adventures with the old girl HERE in her blog) and an early flight out to China the next morning. Fast forward three weeks and I am back to Canada to enjoy the events and festivities surrounding the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Yes I skipped a lot of time (great times) since my last post, but you will have to hang with me for the time being.
More posts will be coming soon about the festivities and events happening surrounding the Olympics. Until then let this photo quench your thirst or water your mouth for me. Which ever the case may be.