POST-OLYMPIC DEPRESSION
From the editor
Alamir Novin

Are you all Olympic'd out yet? In case you haven't noticed, the Courier hasn't put out a paper during the Olympics due to Cap's closing, but it may have been redundant to do so anyway. Because for those two weeks, if you were social and participatory enough, it felt as though we had the luxury of receiving a lot of our news face to face, and by word of mouth from many parts of the world.

And for a few moments, we were the news. At the protest march on Friday I noticed it was the largest protest attendance I've ever witnessed in Vancouver. I ran into the CBC media and asked what attendance numbers they planned to report: “Around 3,000. It's hard to say, though, because so many people are coming and going and some people are just observing.” The BBC reporters took a look around themselves and came up with a ballpark figure of “1,300 people.” But the best estimate came from a tourist I met from Nashville, Tennessee who summed up the crowd as such: “I've been to Mardi Gras, to New York during rush hour, and other events, but I've never seen a place this crowded full of people.” He was a fan of worldly entertainment and gatherings; he bought scalped tickets for his family members and came off as a 'professional-tourist' who had attended other mass events. I asked myself why should I care for CBC's or the BBC's second hand information when I had the primary source of information right here in front of me?

I've met athletes and even families of athletes and listened to them share their stories. A little girl dressed in a puffy Alaskan snow suit pillowed her teddy-bear's tummy as she slept on the bus seat beside me. “She's been at it all day,” her mother explained. The mother, daughter and sixteen other family members of Kerry Weiland came here to watch her win a silver medal for USA's hockey team. I didn't need the media's heartwarming expos├ęs – It was happening right there on the 246 Highland bus.

Nor did I need CTV's media montages, with their “I Believe” soundtrack; I have it all stored in memory. Besides, not all the images are as pleasant as they made out – “Everyone says Americans are rude, but Canadians are obnoxious,” a woman yells from deep inside a crowd who were upset over the Canadian men's hockey team's loss to the Americans. Nearby a group was yelling “USA sucks!” and one guy even offered to “kick anyone's ass who is wearing a USA sweatshirt.” Olympic tough guys. An obnoxious high-school freshman pushed his friend in a bit of horseplay and while they were both clearly laughing, a bulky police officer grabbed the 100 pound skinny teenager's arm firmly: “My boss tells me that if I see people acting rowdy I have to arrest them. So what do you think I should do when you're pulling that stunt in front of me?” Although there were two minutes of unnecessary force and an embarrassed kid, the cop opened his hand to free the kid from his kung-fu grip.

And then there was the economic perspective from the commercial retailer. Park Royal had become a ghost-mall. “All the locals, our regular customers, have left for the Olympics. It's been dead all week. And the tourists don't want to visit here. Who wants to come to Vancouver for glasses? If I wasn't working right now, I'd be downtown too, not at a mall,” said Megan, the Iris glasswear sales rep.

The feeling was mutual to Matt, a red-toqued Canadian Olympic enthusiast, who also worked the graveyard shift up on Grouse mountain. Matt makes a living skiing Grouse, sometimes until 2 am, in an emergency response unit. As Grouse was open for 24 hours every day of the Olympics, Matt  experienced a few red-eyed dawns. He told me the level of body deterioration is equivalent to smoking two packs a day. It's also a great synecdoche for the city. With the extra push by entertainers and the entertained, we'll most likely be feeling a large void once the Olympics are gone and we're left with the hang-over. Matt predicted that everyone, even the locals, will want to just stay home during that time. Indeed, reports show that after the summer Olympics, Beijing's markets, especially restaurants and tourist locations, hit a lull and experienced some of the lowest sales of the year. The same effect happened to Turin after the 2006 Winter Olympics. And, of course, there's all the news on civic pride – except that I observed mostly national pride, what with all the Canadian flags. The latest Ipsos Reid survey found that about 75% of Canadians believe the Olympics are a Canadian event over a Vancouver one.

Although I did experience some of that devout national patriotism, part of me sided with little Tyler's observation: “What's the big deal?” The four-year old inside Waves Cafe said after Canada's hockey team beat the Russians 7-3. “What's the big deal, Tyler? What's the big deal with lemon pie? If you don't care then we might as well not enjoy lemon pie tonight,” his mom teased. “You don't think it's a big deal, Tyler?” his father chimed in. Tyler broke down, “Noooo! It is a big deal!”

Students of Capilano, consider this post-Olympic issue a piece of your lemon pie. A sweet and sour slice of compensation as we all try to figure out “what's the big deal,” now that the games are finally over.


//Alamir Novin, editor-in-chief

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com