Saturday, February 27, 2010

all alone in the universe

I gave up watching the corporate sponsored media after they fabricated a story about someone throwing marbles at horses during the Olympic torch protest in Victoria last year. Until then I had watched or read periodically, with hopes of extracting some truth about local and world events from their highly subsidized perspective. But I had witnessed the infamous marble incident firsthand, I was right there … and it looked absolutely nothing like what I saw described by those whose paycheques are so dependent on pleasing the same folks whose ads are plastered all over the Vancouver Olympics.

I realized my dream of mutiny is impossible. The corporate media drones are slaves. Their mission isn’t to educate, it’s to fabricate – to carefully select and present information that will maintain the dominant social and economic order.

If you benefit from, and therefore enjoy the dominant social and/or economic order .... and think everyone else should just succeed as you have, there’s no point in reading any further.

It was a wise decision, giving up on the corporate media, and especially their most recent eight billion dollar fortnight festival. I witnessed some of it, it was impossible not to, but I never chose any of the channels myself. Sometimes I was in a room where it was present, and I did my best to avert my gaze.

“It’s the age of information,” that’s what they told me 25 years ago… nowadays I avoid poisoning my body with chemical laced food, and I no longer poison my mind with corporate media spin. Neither do I feel the anxiety and stress associated with yelling at the TV or radio when they manipulate the truth to suit their corporate slave-masters.

I don’t “google,” mostly because it’s the name of a corporation, but one day recently I was reading facebook (a ‘Google’ acquisition) and I learned about ONE CORPORATE MEDIA’S most recent lie or, if you’d prefer, manipulation of truth.


I was there. In Vancouver. On February 25th. By chance I met this Shena Meadowcroft person and, with her permission, recorded a short interview as we walked, surrounded by many peaceful and colourful people, some of the distance between the Art Gallery and BC Place. Shena told me she and her husband/partner, who was walking alongside her, live on Gabriola Island, had made the long day’s journey because the Olympic spending is just too much, because she doesn’t want the US military invading us should an “incident” occur. What really got her, she said, was hearing about some “Rent a Homeless Person” project that VANOC had contrived ostensibly to help tourists understand the people of Vancouver’s Downtown EastSide. They were only in Vancouver for the day, she said. We talked about the Victoria Street Newz with which she was familiar, I asked her to consider submitting her thoughts for the next issue. I offered them some almonds (always a good choice of travel food), she took one or two and he took a small handful, she thanked me and gave me her business card, we parted our ways.

It doesn’t surprise me that she wrote to the Vancouver Police thanking them for their restraint as they were being spat upon and called names. She didn’t seem the sort to allow follow up with corporate media, though, and I wonder how they got hold of her letter, why her story was so important that they sent a crew to Gabriola Island to interview her inside her home, and how they attained that permission.

Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me that A Channel would stoop to a new low – showing video from the February 13th “Clog the Arteries” protest while referring to the rally Shena participated in, and had written about, on February 12th. Anyone who’s been to any protests knew way ahead of time that, if any non-peacefully motivated actions were to go down, those would be happening on February 13th. You just had to read the email, or check the websites. February 12th was billed as a “Take Back Our City” rally and, while it’s impossible to know what everyone will do during moments of civil disobedience and direct action, it seemed obvious to me that February 12th would be the family friendly parade, February 13th was scheduled as the day the Black Bloc might hand the corporate media their “if it bleeds it leads” video - and feel really really empowered while doing so.

I’ve read, and participated in, many facebook discussions about the perceived (or not) success of such tactics. I’ve also heard the entire olympic protest dismissed as one big stupid idiotic window smash. Heard a lot of that one, despite avoiding the corporate media. But when I saw A Channel using window smashing video (from February 13th) while talking about the family friendly parade (from February 12th), I was again reminded just how serious this battle for hearts and minds really is. Spitting and name-calling are childish tactics, probably inspired by agents planted in crowds and groups and neighbourhoods and condominiums for the purpose of encouraging violent and/or angry responses. The military industrial go-fuck-yerself-and-everything-else that-has-ever-lived machine seems to enjoy divide and conquer.

BTW the police weren’t the only recipients of this carefully devised spitting and name-calling strategy – my photographer friend was also on the receiving end of such venom just for daring to be part of the parade.

And then there’s the ultimate divide and conquer pie-ing of David Eby. And those who would defend it.

Shame on you, serving the corporate media.

What’s really going on here? A Channel is, as usual, ignoring the messages of thousands upon thousands of people who peacefully, without spit or name-calling, chose to express their discontent at 8 billion+ of our tax dollars (and yes, we do all pay taxes) being stolen without majority consent. They ignored the destruction of Eagleridge Bluffs, the murder of native elder Harriet Nahanee who protested and died shortly after being imprisoned for her peaceful non-violent civil disobedience. They ignored the tent city – definitely the longest lasting (and I would argue, most creative) of all the direct actions these past two weeks.

I’ll be really glad when the cult of the Olympics, and all its spin-offs, has passed. I’m thankful that, since taking part in extremely peaceful and constructive and creative non-violent civil disobedience in Vancouver the weekend of the opening games, I’ve been tucked away looking after doggies whose motives never involve hatred. I don’t have to listen to co-workers raving about who’s on top with which medals or attempt, in my perpetual efforts to keep it all in perspective, to inform them about the planned destruction of Fish Lake and subsequent pollution of a series of waterways including the Fraser River just so more gold can be mined for pretty gold shiny things like medallions for stupid competitive exclusive games where women ski-jumpers are not welcome, where female hockey players are slammed for daring to celebrate with Cuban cigars.

Cults are commonly defined as having four central factors, according to Arthur Deikman, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. They demand compliance with the group, they depend on a leader, they don’t allow dissent, and they devalue those who aren’t part of the group.

No, thank you. No thank you Olympics. No thank you Corporate Media. No thank you Black Bloc. And if that means I take a pie in the face, and I’m all alone in the universe …. I’m okay with that.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I had plotted and schemed all week, determined that I’d get all my necessaries accomplished early so that this afternoon I could dole out the fifteen bucks and witness this much talked about movie. Tomorrow, and for three weeks, I’m heading into the world of doggie minding – a world that takes considerable amounts of my energy and time ensuring that my little friends are happy and cared for, and I wanted to see the no doubt oscar winning film before it leaves the big screen. Besides, any film Evo Morales endorses has to be good. I figured it’d be worth the three hour investment.

So today, after my favourite Friday morning activity of tea and Street Newz business, after chatting with a homeless woman about the frustration of living on the streets with increasing police presence, after cycling halfway to Vancouver to deliver the SNZ mailout to the main post office, after a delightful Indian buffet lunch at Sabri (whose prices have increased from $6.95 a decade ago to $9.95 now – and yes, I can blame the Liberals), I dropped the $15 at Silver City, donned the blues brothers 3D glasses, and settled in for the Avatar Experience.

(I sure do love my electric bike, without whom I wouldn't have accomplished all that so readily.)

Spoiler alert: You might not want to read any more if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

I cheered when Neytiri killed the little Dick fascist Cheney character. Hurray! I was the only one in the sparsely occupied theatre clapping, but the British woman behind me giggled as if with relief as I did it. Maybe the rest of them were cheering for the US military machine, the Zionists, the evil Canadians killing indigenous peoples in Palestine and Afghanistan and all over the world, I dunno. Maybe that’s not really what the movie’s about …. maybe that’s just my interpretation of it. I was definitely wondering how people could dare to suggest that all the movie’s got going for it is special effects, that its story line is weak.

Sure, real life imperialist efforts enact radically different psychological warfare abilities than those questing for Unobtainium. The Pandora killers had some pretty rad technology to work with, if you’re into flying death machines and robots, but their tactics were rather lame. They didn’t, for example, pretend to be doing anything other than what they were doing – destroying anything that got in the way of their quest for the valuable mineral “Unobtainium.” I guess that’s what they get away with when there’s absolutely nobody watching (kind of like how they turned the TV cameras away from the real violence of war after people complained so loudly about Vietnam). They didn’t try to co-opt the indigenous people through divide and conquer techniques, pretending to care about some of them (those they can buy) so they could bend the will of the top guns and have their way with all of them. They didn’t send agents in to encourage the Pandora people to forget who the real enemy is and instead turn on each other. They didn’t even offer trinkets. No, the Unobtainium Mineral Military Corporation just went in there and blasted the living shit out of the people, destroyed their nurturing Home Tree, and proceeded to attempt to kill forever the spirit of the place.

I’m still not sure what they wanted the unobtanium for …. I remember it had a significant market value (god bless the free market), but did it have any real value to the humans? To the Pandorans it’s the mineral that enables the mountains to float … perhaps the alien invaders just wanted to spoil their fun. Stupid alien invaders.

Actually, on second thought, perhaps the aliens did use some psychology in their quest. I suppose the Avatars were originally meant to betray the Omaticayans, but when they had a chance to live among them, learn their culture, witness how the forest was actually alive, after they fell in love with them and their world then they couldn’t bring themselves to participate in the mining project. Still, I’m not sure how much of that was intentional on the part of the scientists, how much they knew …. only Jake, with a military background, was actually feeding information directly to the evil corporate slave, Colonel Quarich.

I’ll have to think all that through some more. Weak plot my ass. It’s an incredible film all around. Too bad about the slovenly types who threw all their crap on the floor of the theater. What’s that about?!!

What also disturbed me was how much I wanted that alien Quarich guy, and all his little pawns, dead. I gave up justifying the murder of sentient beings when I became vegan, so my brain isn’t used to feeling that venom. But today I felt it again … I wanted all those corporate mining crusaders dead and gone. I cheered wholeheartedly for the Pandorans in the final battle, smiled when they sent their prisoners packing.

And of course, Hollywood loves a happy ending. If only real life were so just. Though there’s always the possibility of the next round of alien invaders for Avatar the sequel.

What do you believe now?

This morning, on CFUV’s “What The” radio programme, Colin Hansen (or a reasonable facsimile) said he’s having the time of his life at the Olympics hanging out with Wayne Gretzky and Arnold Swartzenegger, so what’s the problem. Those complainers should just remember the fast ferries and bingo-gate. What a mess that was.

(Colin Hansen is British Columbia's Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the 2010 Winter Olympics.)

The show’s host drew attention to the big disaster on the very first day of the games, when a luge competitor was killed on what might have been faulty equipment … how does Hansen feel about that. We shouldn’t be so negative, was the response …. nobody’s been killed for almost a week already.

Yesterday I heard about someone’s friend who was hired to drive buses in Whistler. He quit after a couple of days – not because it’s an hour and a half drive each way from Squamish to work, and not because the housing the bus drivers were promised in Whistler isn’t completed (even though unemployment is at an all time high) and the construction is going on all night so they can’t sleep. No, the reason a bunch of bus drivers packed it in is because the schedule is so poorly organized that, when they pull up at a bus stop, there are over 100 people waiting. This particular friend of a friend isn’t interested in pissing that many people off all at once.

If you think they’re doing a crappy job of the Olympics, you should see the mess they've made of the province.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Long Live Greenwich Tent Village!

Documenting the Olympic Resistance in Vancouver:

click here to access audio segments from the weekend

click here for photos documenting the construction of the tent village

I’m home again, and happy to be here. The energy in Vancouver was incredible …. I love that city, and am really grateful I was able to participate with so many colourful and creative and peaceful anarchists and socialists over the weekend, but it’s sure great being home. I’m lucky to have one.

On the final bus to my destination last night I talked with my old buddy Peter. Many people know Peter, who used to spend a lot of time at UVic. He’s a philosophical sort, analytical, contemplative. When the new president arrived at UVic several years ago, I guess they decided Peter didn’t fit their new corporate image and they banned him from the premises. Sure, Peter’s a collector, a recycler, and his accumulations were somewhat problematic but, as Peter explained it to me many years ago, he’s just collecting valuable recyclables that others toss away. Maybe if we had more recycling depots folks wouldn’t have to accumulate so much stuff, they could just recycle it.

Anyways, Peter asked me what was the highlight of my time in Vancouver, and I said definitely the creation of the new Tent Village on Hastings St. in the DTES. All weekend we’d been trying to help the sleep-walking folk understand the history of this place, that living breathing thriving nations of people lived here for hundreds of thousands of years until the arrival of the “settlers” who poisoned them, killed them, threw them off their land, and moved in. On Monday we took a tiny piece of that stolen land and occupied it.

The people pretending to “own” that particular vacant lot, about half a block in length, is a humungous “developer” called Concord. They were given (in another round of land theft) the lands at the end of False Creek after Expo in ’86. Surely they can spare this little chunk so that otherwise homeless people can create community and live safely together while we wait for the end of this current phase of human greed and consumption and return to a Canada that actually cares about each other.

As a friend said, it’s not that we’re opposed to condos – they’re a much lighter environmental footprint than suburbs - we’re just opposed to the exclusive nature of them.

I ask you ultra wealthy types --- how much is enough? Didn't your mama teach you to share?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let’s get them talking

During yesterday’s march to honour and remember the missing/dead women from the DTES, I ducked into the Media Coop offices established by Franklin Lopez and others. Their small busy basement office, filled with computers and technology of all stripes, reminded me of the birth of IndyMedia, during the Battle of Seattle. When I arrived their server was down, so I waited until Frank had a few moments to chat.

The Media Coop has evolved from an Ontario based project called The Dominion, and is now in several cities and growing. The day before, Frank told me, they’d had a million hits to their website. The reason? They’ve got cameras out on the streets, witnessing the no Olympics demos from a unique perspective, lots of excellent footage documenting the intriguing Hudson’s Bay event, and incredible volunteers doing the work of editing.

I call the HBC event intriguing because it raises so many interesting questions. Among them, where were the police while black bloc activists pushed over newspaper boxes, dragged them across the streets, and threw them through the big glass windows? They weren’t on rooftops, with radios? They had no fire hoses, tear gas, horses, tasers at their disposal? It’s almost as if they allowed it to happen. In fact, if one were watching from a distance, it’d perhaps be difficult to know which was which – both were dressed completely in black, both sides had their faces and identities covered.

Frank Lopez supports the black bloc because, he believes, their actions raise the level of discussion to consider the roots of oppression. Since the Hudson’s Bay windows were smashed, people are now talking about the origins of Canada’s corporate government, its systematic theft of land and murder of original inhabitants, the small pox infested blankets the HBC distributed to the native communities. I don’t know what’s going on elsewhere, but many of my interesting facebook “friends,” long time activists among them, are focused on the tactics rather than the motivation. We understand the history, we realize why the HBC was targeted (and surely the police might have guessed that too), but what’s being discussed is whether such tactics are ultimately serving the greater good. Some suggest the bloc are playing into the police’s hands. Others believe provocateurs have infiltrated the group. Non activists see the violence and assume it’s a tactic that will next be applied to their homes.

We all, after all, live on stolen native land. First the Bay ….. what next?

I remember a story my friend (a Creative Writing teacher) from New York City told me, about the time she took a school group to what was billed as a peaceful protest. For no apparent reason the police, on horseback, charged the crowd. Luckily, she was able to move herself and the children to safety. My friend is devoted to systemic change. She works with hearts and minds. But she’ll never go to another rally.

I believe we live on stolen native land. I also believe that, when you build a home, it’s essential to establish a solid foundation. If we’re gonna get beyond capitalism (and we must, if we as a species are to survive), then we’ve got to build something grounded in trust. Cooperation. Compassion. And peace.

Capitalism was forced on the indigenous peoples of this land through violent means, and its violence continues. Whatever we build next needs hearts and minds and, whether you want to believe it or not, you’re simply not going to win those with broken windows. Not this one, anyways.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Women's March - DTES - Feb 14 2010

(photos from the day are here)

It began with a walk in the 50 or so year old urban forest with my dear friend of 25 years. We found this interesting three stump podium, and I awarded Liz the gold medal for friendship.

Not long afterwards, I headed to the DTES for the Women’s March. Five hundred dead or missing women, 19 years of commemoration. As we gathered, outside the Carnegie Centre at Hastings and Main, I noticed there weren’t any police officers diverting traffic as the crowd began to overflow from the sidewalks onto Main street. Traffic was forced to lose a lane, and nary a cop in sight. A billion dollars are being spent on security for the Olympics. Would they rather we just wander aimlessly into traffic? Eventually they created a traffic free block along main street, and a small number escorted us along the parade route, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge the irony. We were gathered to honour the memories of 500 missing/dead women whose disappearance has essentially been ignored by the authorities. Not that I think we can't police ourselves, but one has to wonder what their priorities are.

Eventually the drummers/organizers/elders emerged from the Carnegie Centre and we were led north among Main St. Many, many media camera people walked backwards at the front of the crowd, capturing the moment. I learned afterwards that some corporate media were very disrespectful to the organizers who had formed a barrier between them and the march. One woman said someone called her bitch, and refused to move and create space. I talked about this with an alternative media friend … we decided that, since the nature of the corporate media world is so rooted in competition, it’s life or death for those camera people. Their paycheques depend on getting that perfect 5 seconds of footage so the nightly news can claim to have covered the issue. Thank goodness the new media model is focused on cooperation and collaboration, and let’s hope it stays that way.

We wound our way through Gastown, back along Hastings St., and ended up at the Japanese Language School where a feast awaited. Elders spoke, reminding us why we were there, acknowledging the death of the Olympic athlete, offering a prayer for the food and the community. I wonder how many Olympic events acknowledge the 500 women, or the fact that they’re temporary guests on stolen native land.

One young activist sat outside eating an apple.

how and why does a billion dollars worth of security allow windows to be smashed?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I did not witness the violence so I can't comment on it

(click here for photos from today
and here for updates all weekend)

Democracy Now ( will be broadcasting from Vancouver on Monday, though Amy Goodman won’t be here in person. She was so severely hassled by Canadian Border authorities on her last attempt to visit, long before she was aware of the Olympic Resistance, that it’s no surprise she’s got capable crew here instead.

Today I was in the right place at the right time, and can say (with great delight) that I was able to assist in producing some of the footage that will air on Monday.

I woke up after 6 hours of delicious sleep and decided to try and connect with the Little Mountain peace rally rather than attempt to find the snake march that would soon be winding its way through Vancouver’s streets. Snake marches are fun (when they're peaceful, I really don't like violence of any sort) – my first was in Calgary during the G8 (they grow so quickly …. they’re now the G20) several years ago. Ralliers of all ages and colours and sizes bring colourful banners and musical instruments, much like Friday’s parade, but instead of following a prescribed route they snake through the streets. One of the popular chants is, of course, “Whose Streets? Our Streets.” (I prefer to think “Whose Streets? Everyone’s Streets” as I delight in being bigger than those darned cars for a while, but it's not quite so catchy.)

By the time I got the bus and the skytrain, and walked two long blocks to catch the next bus (because the buses aren't all running on all routes because of other priorities in the city right now) to Cambie at 33rd, the starting point for the peace rally according to the event announcement, the ralliers had already departed. I don’t really know my way around Little Mountain (Queen Elizabeth Park), but I was there and hesitated only a moment before heading up to the top. As always, as is human nature, I wondered if I was in the best place, I wondered what was happening downtown without me there to document it from my own individual perspective but, given that there were so many cameras and perspectives at Friday’s parade, I continued the hike up. I wondered if the press conference at W2 I’d heard rumoured, with the women’s ski jump team (who were denied entry into these Olympics by a sexist IOC) was really happening, and whether I ought to turn around and try to get there instead ….

I began to hear drumming, and quickened my pace but alas, it was a group of Asian drummers and chanters who, someone later suggested, are Falun Gong practitioners - also persecuted by an uncaring and selfish government. Carrying on, I eventually found the small but delightful peace group and soon realized I was in precisely the right place. We offered non-denominational prayers for a peaceful Olympics for both guests and residents, for the earth, for all creatures. There was drumming, and singing, and silent meditation.

And some speechifying. A native elder from the Musqueam Nation told us stories from the days when his people lived on this land – lore about David Thompson stealing their canoes and being chided for it, about direct relatives of his who were displaced and actually lived on Little Mountain. Ellen Woodsworth, Vancouver City Councillor, spoke about the huge amounts of money being spent on these games while many of the city’s residents are in need of basic essentials, how a little political will and a portion of the Olympic spending could easily remedy an otherwise dire circumstance.

Ellen is on day six of a seven day fast, she’s participating in the Homeless Awareness Hunger Strike Relay that’s been going on for over a year. Tomorrow she’ll pass the torch, during the Women’s Memorial March, to commemorate the 500+ dead and/or missing women from the Downtown Eastside, from the Highway of Tears, from across the planet and our world. As she began to depart, with two others who were filming the event, I was able to introduce myself. I gave them copies of the Victoria Street Newz and my new business card with the always true brand – “All Good News, All the Time.” (So far nobody I’ve give that to has immediately seen the irony). I was invited to join them to witness the devastation of the Little Mountain Housing Project. I realized I was in the right place.

And that’s the story of how I held the umbrella that protected the camera that filmed a worthy politician telling the story of the loss of Vancouver’s first social housing project, the displacement of over 200 people, and the potential high rise condos that will result. Watch for it on Monday’s edition of the war and peace report at Ellen will join me on my radio programme, the Winds of Change, Thursday at 11 am pst.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Nice Cuppa Tea

(more photos here ....)

Well, they almost won me over, those Olympians. Almost.

I got a reasonably early start today and, after several hours walking along Hastings, visiting the Megaphone’s office, chatting with the good people at the Carnegie Centre, witnessing the guerrilla garden near the Balmoral Hotel that Dominique has created to commemorate the 500+ missing women from the DTES … long after the very delicious $4 bowl of vegan soup from the W2 Media Centre hours earlier and on my way back downtown for the big parade, I stopped to photograph two women affixing a sign to a glass window on the outside of an elegant Chinese Art space.

I had hoped to cross paths with a rally I’d heard had commenced on Commercial Drive, the day’s destination for all good activists being the Vancouver Art Gallery which will no doubt soon be feeling the impacts of the 90% province wide arts cuts. The women affixing the sign to the window invited me to go inside and have a cup of tea. For free, they said.

A nice cuppa tea …. for free? Who could turn that down. It was organic and green, and recently steeped. There weren’t many people in the place, it had only just opened, but I could see that there would be many cups of tea (in real Chinese teacups) served here in many tea ceremonies.

Thanks to the Cultural Olympiad, I guess. But free’s a relative term, isn’t it. I guess it’s more like an eight billion dollar cup of tea. It’s the only thing I’ll be getting out of the Olympics, but I must say I did enjoy my eight billion dollar cup of tea. Just how, I’d like to know, did the six billion cost I’ve been quoting for the past month suddenly become eight billion? Is moving snow really that expensive? I prefer Stephen Colbert’s method – encourage get all the people on the eastern seaboard to fill up envelopes with the white stuff and mail it to the Vancouver Olympics.

In any event, I had my eight billion dollar cup of tea and thought …. this isn’t so bad after all. It’s completely worth it! Until I stepped back outside and realized I was still in the DTES and there really are a lot of things that eight billion dollars could buy.

I walked the distance back to Vancouver’s downtown, found my way through the populated streets to the Art Gallery. As I was crossing the final intersection, looking forward to joining the gathering of colourful and creative protestors, I heard a man say to his female friend – “they’ve got health care, what are they complaining about.” Actually, I said to him, our health care funding is being cut. Really, he replied. Yes, I said, also funding for schools and most recently a 90% funding cut to the arts. The solution, this man suggested as we crossed the street, is to increase taxes. I agreed – increase taxes on corporations. And make Coca-Cola and MacDonald’s pay for their own games. And we parted our ways.

The rally was brilliant. Peaceful, colourful, joyous, with music and singing and dancing. One person estimated us at 4000. Those who had gathered to denounce us, call us traitors and bad citizens, were awestruck, silenced. We filled the streets, blocks long, making our way to BC Place where we were greeted by a police line of horses. More animal cruelty. Those horses stood there for the two hours I was there, and most likely long after I left.
As far as I know, there were no incidents.

I had dinner in a friendly little falafel place on Granville St. with a friend, and caught a bus back to where I’m staying – with very long time friends of 25 years. She is not really into the Olympics at all, thinks it’s a waste of money. He has tickets to the games. Still, they manage to love each other. They were watching the opening ceremonies when I arrived. I had seen part of it in the falafel joint, and in various TV screens in bars and restaurants all along the bus route home. I cracked a beer, we chatted a bit, and I began the download while KD Lang lost my respect. And Bryan Adams. And Donald Sutherland. Wayne Gretzky’s obviously had facial surgery. For heaven’s sake. Why.

a link to videos, audio, photos documenting the olympic resistance

check here for regular updates over the course of the weekend

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maybe it's because I'm an East Ender ....

The other morning, on Vancouver’s “Wake Up With Co-op,” a guest host was speaking with a man from London about their impending nightmare. The IOC are already in there, he said, scoping out the turf, putting their stamp on the bits they want to procure in the next round of corporate fascism disguised as athletics. They’ve even scooped up a public playing field, an area where children kick a ball around and call it “football.” No more ball playing for you dirty kids, unless you grow up to be an “Athlete.”

The Co-op radio host asked the British man “Why did the IOC go directly to the East end of London to begin its plan and design for 2012? Why aren’t they considering hosting the games in the West Side?”

A damned good question, mate. Why indeed. And why is it that the east end of so many cities are where the working class live? What is it about west ends that attract the affluent?

I think of Cuba (not a perfect society, but which boasts zero homelessness, zero hungry children), where cities are not stratified economically. People live in their family’s homes, as is common in many nations not North American. You can own a building in Cuba, but you cannot own the land it stands upon. Because of the 49 year economic embargo imposed by the defenders of manifest destiny, the Cubans do have a housing crisis. They have the will to house people, but not the materials. And, because Cuba is striving for equality on all levels, including economic, choosing to be a doctor or a lawyer will not propel anyone to live in a mansion. The Cubans did away with the mansions 50 years ago. (Fidel himself, I’m told, lives in an apartment in Havana.) Because of all these things, Havana is not a city that’s stratified by economics. But here in the west (again, the obsession with imagining all wealth travels west) the land thieves … er, I mean Realtors, implement a planned gentrification. And in East London, right now, preparations for one more (dare I say one last) blast at empire are, no doubt, meeting with their own kind of resistance.

Because we will grow and expand, we resisters, I’m confident of that. The basic desire for survival is a particularly strong instinct. The world is watching, and we east enders will learn, and organize, and share our wisdom with our brothers and sisters around the world.

The Games are about to commence here in Vancouver. If you’re going, I’ve heard it’s recommended you get to the venue four hours in advance. FOUR HOURS! They’ll thoroughly search you, and won’t allow you to bring any of your own food or beverages, but they will happily sell you way overpriced coca-cola and crappy fast food – so you can eat just like the athletes. And chuck your bits of dead planet into the landfill bin on your way out.

By next month, six billion dollars later, I doubt Vancouverites will ever allow this charade to descend upon their fair city again.

It’s preposterous to suggest that Vancouver in any way needs international attention. Are you kidding me? I left whiter than white Victoria this morning at nine thirty, and by the time I arrived at my friend’s house in Vancouver I’d heard at least three or four different languages. The first bus driver, from the ferry, had a thick Latino accent and was very extremely friendly and helpful, I might add, with the myriad of questions being hurled at her. How do I get to Whiterock, I need to meet a friend at 41st and Granville, what’s the best way to get to Vancouver. This woman knows the city and its buses like someone born here, and she patiently shared her knowledge. I relaxed ….. suddenly I felt like I was in Central America or Cuba, where people actually understand the importance of community, rather than heading into the warzone of the IOC. I listened to darkskinned people speaking French as the new Canada Line descended into its tunnel of darkness (it’s fast, but it’s not like seeing the city from Richmond to Broadway St.), and had a chat with a thickly accented Asian man on the way to the University (while some other loud mouthed Caucasian man of my generation told an elderly woman passenger that he was going to meet his buddy to go get drunk and smoke some hash). Even the dude in full military gear, at the coffee shop where I dropped off a couple of Street Newzes, was of ethnic origin. Vancouver is already an international city. We don’t need no stinking 6 billion dollar games to alert the world to the logging industry’s recently developed real estate market.

I believe this is stolen native land. And I hope my blood cousins, down and out in East London, can awaken the spirits of their pagan ancestors whose land was stolen out from under them. Because it’s about to happen again.

Click here to read an article from The Times titled “Unlawful anti-terror powers planned for use during 2012 Olympics.”

Beware the Agents Provocateurs

(What the heck's a MARSEC LEVEL 1?)

I woke up with a groovy tune in my head again this morning. I believe it was Hall and Oates who sang it, back in what must by now be considered the good old days …. “you’re making my dreams come true do do do do do do.” It’s the second morning in a row that I was thus awakened.

Not having too much time to ponder this mysterious message from the universe, I scarfed down some organic cereal and soy milk while finishing packing and downloading email. I had an hour and a half before boarding the first of many buses and a ferry that would transport me from my quiet peaceful home, into the warzone where, I’ve heard, helicopters buzz the skies night and day.

The Greenest Games Ever!

“But the games are here, they’re going to happen, there’s nothing you can do about it” an elder friend suggested. “Sure they’re spending too much money but now we’ve just got to support the athletes. They’ve worked hard and they deserve our support.”

One hardly knows where to begin. Of course I support the athletes, I assured my friend. I’ve lived a fairly athletic life myself – not competitively, but certainly personally. Why do sports have to descend to this pinnacle of worship? What happens to the 8th place finisher in the race, not to mention the millions of children whose school and community centre budgets have been cut so a few can worship at the alter of the ultimate pyramid of ego?
Volumes have been written about how these games have nothing, really, to do with athletics. The athletes are merely pawns in a neo-imperialist game and the spectators are submissive endorsers of the end to democracy as we know it. How can I explain to my elder friend, who risked her own life during WWII to ostensibly fight the ultimate oppressor, how can I help her understand that what I’m doing by travelling to Vancouver to participate in, witness, and document the dissent is precisely the freedom that she was told she was fighting for all those years ago?!

It’s the ultimate irony, I think, that those who fought Hitler’s dictatorial rule are now endorsing it. It is not only my right to express my dissatisfaction with a government that has become tyrannical, it is also my obligation.
In the words of Winston Churchill (and believe me I never thought in a million years I’d ever quote Winston Churchill), “We Will Never Surrender!” We will not stand by while our brothers and sisters starve and die in the streets, as oil pipelines are carved through ancient wilderness, while BC boasts again (for six years now) the highest child poverty rate in the nation, as a billion dollars is spent on Olympic Security but they can’t find the time or energy to find the 500 missing Indigenous women who’ve disappeared from the Downtown Eastside.
I believe we live on Stolen Native Land.

And I also believe that, whatever happens these next few days, there will be Agents Provocateurs waiting at every turn to trip us up, trick us into unnecessary violence, discourage, abuse, and even sadden us. They are sneaky devils, those agents, but if we are to win this battle in Vancouver, and send our message forward to London and beyond, we’ve got to remain peaceful. The very moment any violence erupts it will be used by the corporate media (who uphold the rights of profit above all else) to discredit all of us. Our messages will be intentionally twisted and lost.

They say that any media is good media – I vehemently disagree. Better to leave the coverage of what looks to be creative, intelligent, constructively critical rallies, demonstrations, and marches to the more than capable independent media (even though two, so far, have been denied entry to Canada) than give one iota of validity to the other media’s claims that we are whatever it is they say we are.

These will be powerful days, as activists of all stripes band together to learn and teach and share and grow. It’s my dream that our messages are sent in a peaceful, dignified manner. I’d like nothing better than to be able to say to my elder friend (whom I love dearly even though she drives me mad at times) ….. “See?!! What were you so afraid of?”

We're ready for anything!

Whether you're heading to Vancouver for the anti-Olympic festivities or watching at home, you can be a part of the fun! Here's the info on protests in Victoria and Vancouver, and where to find the best indy
news and commentary live online.

THURSDAY 1:30 pm in Victoria: RALLY at the Legislature. PROTEST Stephen Harper proroguing Parliament, trying to shut down the Vancouver safe injection site, failing on climate change. Rain or shine! Come one, come all!

FRIDAY 7 am - bus is leaving from Camas Books, 2590 Quadra in Victoria. Reservations required! Party starts at Vancouver Art Gallery at 3 pm. Scroll down for legal info, maps, and more.

Anti-Olympic MEDIA: Watch and cheer for the Victoria crew! Add these links to your bookmarks,
Follow my live tweets from the streets starting THURSDAY:
Twitter tags to watch: #no2010 #report2010 #onlympics

Enjoy live-blog mockery and webstream satire from Only Magazine's media penthouse starting FRIDAY at 5:30.

Must-read websites for live and almost-live protest coverage
B Channel
Only Magazine
Vancouver Media Coop: ,
V Community


Google map of all the anti-Olympic rallies, marches, actions, and parties.
Olympic Resistance Network - legal info, events list, and more


BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) - human rights lawyers and legal observers
BCCLA Arrest line (if you are arrested): 604-689-9540
BCCLA Support line (friends and families missing someone): 604-689-9547
BCCLA Tip line (to report misconduct): 1-866-610-0385
Immigration/border line: 1-877-823-2010 or 604-630-7502

* Updated Border Crossing Information and what to do if you are stopped:

Having trouble? Missed the ferry home? Lost and need a place to stay?
We got you covered. Call me at 250-813-3569.

Be safe and take care of each other!
Zoe Blunt
Throw us a coin!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

It’s difficult to describe the extent to which I despise Valentine’s Day

If you’re in love, you are obligated to pretend it’s the best day ever … things will finally be perfect! You must make them perfect. You plan the perfect dinner, the hottest night. And it always is, isn’t it? Everything’s always perfect on Valentine’s Day. It’s like Christmas, only closer to spring.

You buy the sweatshop flowers, the child-harvested chocolate and all its subsequent enslaved animal products, the kill-the-earth diamonds (they’re forever) and gold. Lots of gold.

If you’re not in love, you try not to gag and spew. And on February 15th you breathe a sign of relief. The hallmark holiday is finally over. Until next year.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Torchbearers in the first ever Torch Relay through Metro Vancouver will walk with the 10-foot Poverty Olympic Torch from Langley to Vancouver.

The Torch will travel through ten communities in 6 days from February 2 to 7 in the last stage of the Poverty Olympics Torch Relay, a province-wide journey emphasizing the devastating reality of poverty and homelessness within communities throughout BC.

Every day of the relay will feature 3 Torchbearers from all walks of life pushing the Torch for 3 hours (6km) each.

When the Torch reaches the centre of each municipality there will be a Community Celebration featuring the Poverty Olympic mascots (Itchy the bedbug, Creepy the Cockroach, and Chewy the Rat) and the "Slapshots to End Poverty" hockey game.

On Day 5, the Torch Relay will include a special Route Feature, a kayak leg from Barnet Beach to Deep Cove.

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Trish Garner: 604-341-8989, Rider Cooey: 604-872-1382 or 604-782-1382

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Day 1 (Feb. 2) - Langley to Surrey, 17.4km (see Map 1):
7:45am: Langley Torch Celebration at corner of Fraser Highway and 206 Street
8:30am: Start of Poverty Olympics Torch Relay through downtown Langley
5:30pm: Finish at King George Highway and 72nd Ave.

Day 2 (Feb. 3) - Surrey to New Westminster
Day 3 (Feb. 4) - Burnaby
Day 4 (Feb. 5) - Coquitlam to Port Moody, kayak to Deep Cove
Day 5 (Feb. 6) - North Vancouver to West Vancouver
Day 6 (Feb. 7) - West Vancouver to Vancouver

Check out for more details about the route and schedule.

flash mob - don't buy israeli apartheid