January 18, 2010 Your OlymPic Photo of the Day -- Prologue: Vancouver Under Siege
As OlymPics (Your OlymPic Photo of the DayŽ) gears up for our biennial sportsfest coverage, the citizens of Vancouver are hunkering down and awaiting a prolonged and painful reaming. A combination of corrupt IOC officials, a massive security apparatus, and poor economic and snow conditions have landed on the fair city like an ice dancer's butt on a poorly considered triple Lutz combination.
These Games rival, and may exceed, the level of corruption with the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Tickets and posh hotel rooms have been sold cheap to IOC officials and corporate sponsors, while the people of Vancouver are frozen out by high ticket prices and monopoly control by a few large ticketing agencies.
Olympic spirit? There is none. Almost to a person people in Vancouver are disgusted with the Olympics. The city and provincial governments have pledged financial backing to all aspects of the Games. It looks like the city could be on the hook for a half a billion dollars just from one speculative condo development built for the Games.
Even NBC is reporting it expects to lose $200 million coving the Winter Games (or, as we call it in the U.S., "America's Got Ice Dancers".)
They are spending one billion dollars on security for the Games. The average citizen won't be able to get anywhere near an Olympic function. There are massive fences going up now, road closures, bridge closures, and other restrictions. Our correspondent reports:
"There are massive security fences and concrete blocks closing off huge areas around anything to do with the Olympics, security cameras everywhere. We've been told to stay off the roads, stay out of the area. People that work downtown have been told to stay home.
"They have passed laws banning any anti-Olympic signs, even if hung in your own home window. There are going to be "free speech" zones set up, far away from the [Olympic venues]..
"They have passed laws to sweep the streets of homeless. They have infiltrated and monitored any potentially organized opposition to it. It's a vast police state apparatus that's coming down on our heads here and I'm not overstating the facts in the least."
"This event is not for the people of Vancouver or Canada or anyone else not directly connected to it. We just foot the bill in terms of lost liberty, massive inconvenience and tax increases, as well as major cuts in services to pay for it all."
This is the modern Olympics. A party for the elite and the few ticket holders that aren't government and IOC officials, all sopping up the gravy and the good times at the expense of the host city.
Here's a photo of the Pacific Coliseum, the downtown figure skating venue. Our correspondent reports:
"I walked by it today to discover it's been turned into an armed camp. There are massive security fences around the entire thing and well beyond. I couldn't get anywhere near it, and felt like I was going to be picked up just for taking pictures of the security preparations, which were the most extensive I've ever seen. I most certainly was being monitored given the cameras set up everywhere.
"I realized that I wouldn't even be able to get a shot of anybody coming or going from this building. If you don't have a ticket you can't even get near the place."
But not to worry, I'm sure they'll remove the security cameras when the Olympics are over....
Personally, I love the Olympic spectacle. But I hate the jingoism. And for sure, it's a nationalistic, corporate enterprise. But, hey -- Montreal successfully paid off its 1976 Olympic debt* .
Betcha seven Olympic quarters (C$1.75) the opening ceremony features thousands of smiling Canadian youngsters....
January 8, 2010 Art Clokey 1921-2010
Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, passed away on January 8th at his home in Los Osos, California at age 88.
Clokey also created Gumby's pony pal, Pokey, their friends Prickle and Goo, the nemesis Blockheads, as well as the Sunday-morning morality drama Davey and Goliath.
He was apparently into eastern mysticism. (I suspect hallucinogens also). My brief encounter with Mr. Clokey was in the mid-1980s when he appeared at a showing of Gumby shorts at Berkeley's U.C. Theatre. He gave a rambling history of his creative enterprise, describing the Claymation process with expressive molding hands and a mystic explanation of the *feeling* he was trying to express through his art. He ended his talk by throwing Gumbys and Gumby Bumps into the audience.
Gumby Bumps, foam rubber head pieces, were popularized a few years later by Eddie Murphy ("I'm Gumby, dammit!"). Gumby's characterisic bump was inspired by the prominent cowlick sported by Clokey's dad.
Here's the first episode of the Gumby Show. I especially like the perspective when Gumby's dad arrives at the moon.
Here's my tribute to the Gumby Theme.
Art Clokey, an original, a true pioneer. If you have a heart, then Gumby's a part of you.