olympicgals

Paralympic Party!

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2010 at 19:54

The friend who invited me to watch the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies had an ulterior motive.

He said my Olympics blog was a bit too cynical, and thought I should have some fun.

And guess what? I did.

The price of tonight’s fun was a pocket knife – one I had taken into an Olympic hockey game without any serious trouble, but was forced to abandon at this particular security checkpoint.

Before I get to the fun – I have to admit, I did cause some trouble. I challenged the security guard on duty, made him call the police officer over, and then argued with them about their sudden policy change. But as two other staff members came over, particularly one very large and imposing woman in a blue jacket who stared me down dissaprovingly, I realised I was fighting a losing battle, and starting to look a little bit unhinged. Which, when you are surrounded by a well-trained contingent of the most expensive security force in the world, is not a good look.

So I slipped the knife off my keychain and left my hostility at the door.

And once inside the cavernous and festive BC Place, I felt like a kid again – as I slipped into a white plastic poncho and let a dread-locked DJ named Nemo teach me a few dance moves.

While the athletes wowed and elicited deafening noise and admiring screams from the colour-coordinated crowd, the hundreds of kids that streamed from the corridors onto the main dance floor really showed the rest of us how to move. They continued shimmying and grooving long after everyone else sat down, and as the 60,000 strong crowd filed out of the stadium, those tireless children still dancing, forming a giant conga line and screaming happily while haphazardly singing the national anthem.

A 1,000 strong choir materialized in the stands during a stirring rendition of “We Rise Again” and provided melodious cheering throughout the ceremonies.

Other unexpected and shockingly talented folk tore up the dance floor. From a Montreal rocker with one leg who ripped up the stage accompanied by flames and duelling wheelchair dancers to a pair of disabled daredevils pulling head-over-wheels flips on a half-pipe, the night was filled with ooh-aah moments. The Mexican athletes boogied and salsa’ed behind their flag, and at one point, I realised I was dancing like a happy fool while the folk sitting behind me were politely trying to see around me.

I think I danced all the cynicism right out of my system. After all, when I’m standing on my own two feet, with no debilitating illnesses or physical challenges to overcome, cheering for people who have done far more with their suffering than I have ever even dreamed of in my abled state, all I can do is dance, and remind myself of how truly joyous it is to be a witness to such an event.

The remains of the day.

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2010 at 19:38

Memories/garbage.

I spent my morning mourning over the empty streets of Vancouver.

It’s all over now. The noise, the traffic, the line-ups, the pin-trading, the crowds, the red and white flood, the medal fever, the surprising patriotism, the grandstanding.

Remember last night?

Those joyous crowds dissapeared into the dawn, replaced by tall fences and men in neon vests. The streets at 9am this morning were ghostly, tuned to an eerie lullaby of hammering, dismantling and gear-shifting.

Wide open spaces.

By the time I arrived at the intersection of Robson and Granville, last night’s Olympic celebratory ground zero, the men in neon had cleansed the streets of beer, spit and dancing.

A lone Irishman trotted his terrier down the now-quiet Granville corridor, thanking God and assuring his dog in his most mannerly profanity that the “$#%^$$# of the Olympics are finally over!”

I had to look very carefully to find evidences of celebration and Olympic spirit: a smashed window in the Sears rotunda discreetly boarded up, a spindly tree draped in bedraggled flags, and a trio of orange street barriers who had borne the brunt of a thousand partiers were my only souvenirs.

And of course, the official Olympic merchandise at the Hudson’s Bay was still luring tired-looking visitors into its never-ending line-up. One last pair of mittens before heading home, I guess.

Markers of mayhem.

I soon left the downtown core for a stroll down to Pavilion central, passing easily through pedestrian corridors that had been clogged with merry-makers and earnest line-ups. On this fair, placid morning after, I had only the silent crowd of hand-built inuksuit lining the False Creek shore to keep me company. (Well, to be honest, there were a handful of depressed Russians, packing up Sochi World).

Twin villages, one built with rocks, the other with millions of taxpayer dollars.

With the distant rumble of transport trucks echoing over the waters, I searched in vain for one last party cluster.  But the only celebrating I saw was that of hard-working clean-up crews enjoying their first cigarette and coffee after a long night of toil.

For all the money, time and energy spent, seventeen days is still just a summer storm in the almanac of a city’s life – short, remarkable and passing as swiftly as it arrived.

Like the old, old man I saw, with a Canadian flag tied carefully around his shoulders, quietly quitting the streets for a train to the airport, Vancouver’s Olympic morning after was a study in contrasts – from giddy to geriatric, from golden to grey.

more photos of a quiet Vancouver:

I love you, man.

In Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 at 21:09

Crowd, figure a.

Woooooooooooo!

Fortified with a tummy full of my dad’s cinnamon buns and a handful of Advil, I took a deep, feverish breath, and jumped headlong into the centre of Vancouver’s last night on the town.

Crowds like this city has never seen before converged on Granville & Robson Street, wooooing and high-fiving. (see the drunk-eye view here).

It was like one big bromance – as Canadian men seized the opportunity to bear-hug complete strangers and old friends, weeping and wooh-ing together over this country’s golden hockey moment, while others revelled in our record-setting medal count.

14 yellow medals. Need I say more?

Even the carefully distributed clumps of police officers were in a good mood, slapping the palms of passersby, and kindly laughing off inflatable hammer hits on the head by foolish fans.

Romances ended and began, girlfriends threw cell-phones and boyfriends stormed off, and a few secure little girls watched the mayhem from atop their daddy’s shoulders, covering their ears with red mittens.

Before....

....after?

Some minor damage to traffic lights occurred as folk tried to get a better view, but people outnumbered cars 200 to 1, so the lights were useless anyways.

I can't hear you!

Musicians, rappers, dancers, drummers, singers and screamers kept the beat all the way along Granville Street, and the old-school boom-box made a decisive comeback, as pocket concerts and spontaneous saxaphone quartets swirled and eddied through the rivers of crowd.

And of course, everyone had an outfit to show off, or take off.

Peeling off.

While my sixteen days of Olympic blogging may be over, stay tuned for extended morning-after coverage, and maybe even some local remedies for what my husband predicts will be Vancouver’s worst collective hangover, ever.

Whew….er….I mean, woooo!