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February 14, 2010

The Vancouver Olympics isn't fooling anyone

Nick Paumgarten sees right through the pretensions of my beloved, but hopelessly insecure hometown:

It was a dispiriting day, for the hosts. The horrific death of a Georgian luger, on a dangerously fast course on which the Canadians had limited everyone else’s practice, to give themselves an advantage come Gamestime, had, fairly or not, exposed the seamy side of their medal-accumulation ambitions, which they’d been uncommonly open about. The Canadians want so badly for these Olympics to go off clean, and for their own athletes to clean up, that the show may have been fated to start off with an awful mess. Gottesstrafe, as the Germans say—God’s punishment. Tragedy aside, the torch-lighting snafu and the lousy weather—rain, fog, and unseasonable warmth, which have already postponed Saturday’s showcase event, the men’s downhill ski race, and Sunday’s women’s combined—are examples of the kind of bad luck that befalls overanxious wedding-planners.

Bravo to Vancouver Poet Laureate Brad Cran for boycotting the Cultural Olympiad. He wouldn't sign a contract promising not to criticize the Olympics.


I guess I just don't get why Vancouver, of all places, has an inferiority complex or such insecurities.

I live in metropolitan Baltimore, a city with one of the highest murder rates in the world, where open-air dope dealing, scammery, car theft, non-fatal shootings, etc. Baltimore has one of the lowest rates of people dining out on the continent, not because of poverty (though there's plenty of that) but due to fear of crime. Transit infrastructure is quite weak, unlike in Vancouver. We have a lot of legacy rust-belt visual ugliness, decay and brownfields that won't get "gentrified" out easily.

I am informed that it's a commonplace in Vancouver to make jokes about Surrey, the large suburb/city in its own right to the southeast, due to its blue collar culture. Baltimore would KILL - literally in this town - to have its biggest problem be Surrey. If Surrey wants to become the westernmost 15th Ward of Baltimore I would love it. But my bet is that Baltimore's self-respect is a bit healthier than Vancouver's, body count and trash on the streets here aside.

A contract not to criticize the Olympics - is that a common business practice in Canada or in the Olympics? IIRC Amy Goodman was banned from entry by Customs Canada under the fear that she might criticize Canada. I mean, really?

Canada is acting like a wannabe thug, imitating their big brother. But they'll never be scary enough. It's sad.

I did like what I saw of the opening ceremony.

But Baltimore had the best ever tv show set and filmed there! I liked Battlestar Galactica and MacGyver, but they just can't compete.

Also, Vancouver may be competing against its own past. Miga, Quatchi, Sumi, and Mukmuk will never be as cool as Expo Ernie. I mean, he was a robot!

Canada suffers from a government that dearly wishes it were a US state, preferably Texas. Four years of it has brought off this kind of phenomenon.

I thought the cauldron's accidental re-design was felicitous: “beautiful as the chance encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on an operating table”, says Lautreamont.

And the parade of nations never fails. That's international competition as it should be, agony without antagonism, in peace.
It outweighs gold medals.

A little Canadian chauvinism may hurt Canada, but not the wider world.

I'm confident any confusion re: why anyone would be chipped off with the games will be cleared up after reading this:

Why a city consistently voted the "Most Livable City In The World" would be so insecure in the first place is beyond me. This is my dream city, the place I most want to live in.

The oddest thing is how quiet most of the city is. Traffic levels are half of normal, if that. Only the downtown peninsula is busy.

Good for you for criticizing the organizers for limiting non-Canadian teams full access for practice, a divergence from all past Olympic host practice.

I hate the Olympics, with its emphasis on country against country nationalistic competition. I loathe the Olympic games.

These games are starting off with some god awful karma. And don't forget, the Montreal Olympic games were a financial catastrophe for one of the interesting big cities of Canada and the continent.

Canada is a neat place - it is better than the vile, drugs, cheating, money and nationalism that has long been what the " Olympic Movement " has devolved into.

I am so very glad that New York did not get the Olympics.

In one sense, it's good that Canada got the Olympics - it has nobody to demolish the homes of. Sydney was pretty brutal to the Aborigines in 2000, and Chicago was preparing to brutalize some of its black neighborhoods in preparation for 2016. I don't want to even think how many people will be displaced in advance of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

I'm just back from London. The people I speak with have many second thoughts about the summer games they're about to get, in light of terrorist menace, etc.

( serious question )

Is anyone speaking of a criminal investigation of the Vancouver Olympic organizers for possible charges of manslaughter?

Activities like ski jumping, mogul skiing, or this ridiculous " sport " of luge ( which maybe ten guys in the world do recreationally ) as performed to the athlete's limit are inherently dangerous.

By denying the right to properly train, the Vancouver organizers intentionally made the non-Canadian athletes less competitive. They meant to only make the foreigners less fast, but they also made them less safe. Which any idiot could have foreseen, esp when the luge itself was probably designed unsafely fast in the first place.

Lets see some of these sons of bitches taken out in handcuffs before the sacred Olympic Flame is extinguished. That would be the one and only way to salvage something good from these execrable Olympic Games.

I've been to Montreal, but not Vancouver, Toronto or Halifax, three places I'd love to visit. Always seems like there will be plenty of time to do this or that.

I don't know if anyone is criminally liable for the luge tragedy, but VANOC and the IOCC and the International Luge Federation should never be allowed to live this down. They knew as far back as 2008 that the design of the track was putting racers at risk.

You've written well about this sad and preventable event.

Alon, you are absolutely correct. The only folks I know personally who were positively anticipating having the 2016 Olympics in Chicago were suburbanites. Those of us who understand how our city government works had already seen the massive graft (legal and not) that was going into trying to secure the games. It was going to be a massive payday for NBC and some contractors, a boon for the advertisers and the politically connected, and a massive, lethal albatross around the collective neck of the working taxpayers. If you think the police state tactics surrounding the Vancouver Games are bad, I can seriously imagine Obama and Richard Daley resurrecting the Red Squad and COINTELPRO just for the Games. Perhaps it's fitting that the 2016 Games went to the city with the highest levels of violent crime and proximate wealth disparity. That's a great follow-up to the Games being hosted in a nation known for gov't corruption and neocapitalist autocracy. In the interim, my heart goes out to Londoners who know what they're in for and are powerless to stop it.

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