Twenty-one spotlights stain the night sky. In constant motion, their chaotic, blinding, and purposeless discharge of energy seems to reflect the overall ambience of the city itself; a city gone mad with conflicting emotions, a city needlessly haemorrhaging fuel and money, a city attempting to cope with spotlights of a different kind—the collective eyes of an entire planet. The air is electric. Not just with the ever-present hum of helicopters and planes, but with the great emotional unrest that ripples through the atmosphere: outrage, passion, jubilation, anxiety, and excitement, all intermingling. The feeling is as overwhelming and contrasted as the suffocating hot-cold dizziness of post-salvia-trip recovery—as if a powerful tide of experience has just blown past, and your left shivering in its wake. This emotional turbulence, coupled with the countless numbers people flooding in by the hour, has Vancouver swollen-- like a balloon on the brink of bursting.
Zoom in to where the rubber is stretched thinnest—and find two Elekwent Folks—A-ro and myself, in a crowd of several thousand, marching through the streets of downtown Vancouver. We refuse to let the negative impacts of the Olympic industry go unnoticed by the World, so have gathered to turn the great spotlight on our city against the very people who have brought it here. Traffic is disrupted on all sides as we march to the beat of drums, chants, and old First Nations songs. Approaching ever closer to BC Place—the site of the Opening Ceremonies—the mood becomes more tense, a few people up ahead light torches, and the chants increase in volume and power. We pass hundreds of tourists, onlookers and news teams from around the World. I try to make eye contact, but their faces are repetitively obscured by the constant flash of cameras.
We arrive at BC Place about an hour or so before the Opening Ceremonies, and are met by a row of Police men, a couple hundred strong, in full riot gear. Here, the march stops. A standoff between the protestors and police ensues, though aside from the occasional bottle being thrown, things remain peaceful. Night begins to fall, it starts to rain.
3 days after the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games, I am far away from the chaos Downtown on a forested cliff, overlooking the wide Pacific Ocean, watching the sunset. The weather is incredibly warm for February, I have snacks, I’m with my friends about to indulge in a nice contemplative doobie—life is good.
After a time, our session is interrupted by the much-out-of-place sound of a great engine. A helicopter, flying almost level with where we sit at the top of the cliff, enters our field of view between the treetops. I guess you can’t escape the Olympics’ presence...even at a place as isolated and tranquil as Wreck Beach.
I get to thinking of the games, of what’s occurred so far, of their omnipresence. Every billboard, commercial, banner and bus-ad insisting we support our Canadian athletes, celebrate diversity, peace and community, and that we immerse ourselves in Olympic hype and excitement. Of course, never far away from these beer and merchandise ads dressed in Olympic clothes, are Royal Bank logos, Bell Mobility logos, and a plethora of other corporate sponsors. I chuckle. Sure seems a funny group to be pushing peace Canadian pride and community.
Then there were the riots the morning after the opening ceremonies. I’m frustrated by how ironic it is that the black-clad rioters marched with us the day before, and then through their violent actions completely undermined the efforts of those thousands of Vancouverites resisting the Olympics in peace. The story of what began as an inspiring demonstration of democracy became one of violence, fear, and stupidity. And thanks to the mindless destruction of just a handful of confused people in black masks, the peaceful protestors of the day before are no longer concerned citizens in the eyes of the public, but freaks, faggots, zonked-out hippies, and junkies. If those confused brothers and sisters who partook in the riots that day really gave a F%CK about the environment, housing crisis, Enbridge Oil Pipeline, or any other cause they claim to support, they would have thought before smashing all that sh!t on Robson St.
The helicopter is long gone. I’m startled out of reflection by my homie DK bumping my arm telling me to pass it on cus I’ve taken to long with my rotation again. Ha! Oh well.
The Olympics are here, the damage is done. Maybe in the future people will build on the protest, and on the efforts of all Vancouver activists. Maybe they’ll work towards making the Olympics a blessing to a city, not a curse. Cus hey! Why can’t a great festival of athletic excellence, international togetherness, and peace, be GREEN and ETHICAL?!!
Anyways, to everyone who heard me out—Elekwent Fans or not: Peace to you!
To the masked, black-clad rioters of last Saturday: Rise up!! There are other ways to use your voice...
And finally, to all those drunk chumps downtown rocking Canada flags chanting “THEY SAY PROTEST WE SAY PARTY”: Don’t get your patriotism, happiness, peace and community catered to you by RBC, Bell Mobility, and McDonalds. Dig for those things within yourselves! There is much more to life than, beer, fireworks, beautiful Swedish girls, and free DeadMau5 shows!
Divine Love y’all
--Slippery Elm of Elekwent Folk