Two Headed Boy, Part Two

Jeff Mangum, the Salinger of rock’n’roll, is in TeeDot tonight and last night with his Neutral Milk Hotel, totally sold-out.  For a guy with so little output – and almost two decades ago – it is amazing how loyal his fans are.  You can hear them sing along on every one of the (very, very few) clips of the band that are found online.


In Sunday’s Sun: the hate Olympics

“The Olympic Games,” says the president of the American Olympic Committee (AOC), belong to the athletes and not to the politicians.” Accordingly, he says, there should not be a boycott of the upcoming games.

Concerned about the possibility of one, the AOC circulated pamphlets that assert “fair play for athletes.” Athletes should not be used as pawns in political debates, says the AOC.

On the other side of the debate is the Amateur Athletic Union, which points out that the host country has broken Olympic rules that expressly forbid discrimination based on race, religion and so on. Participation would suggest support for the regime’s bigoted policies, says the union.

The mayors and governors of New York and Massachusetts chime in, also strongly supporting a boycott. Various religious groups, mainly Catholic, similarly call for one. Nations like Great Britain, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands also moot shunning the games.

Are Russia’s Sochi games, to commence in 19 days, actually in peril?

No, not at all. The scenario sketched out above is real, and it really happened. But it all happened many years ago, prior to Adolf Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.

At the time, the head of the AOC, the loathsome Avery Brundage, dismissed growing concerns about Hitler’s persecution of Jews. It’s a “Jew-Nazi altercation,” sniffed Brundage, one that shouldn’t concern anyone else. Later, when it was evident that a Berlin boycott would fail, Brundage would go even further, blaming a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy” to jeopardize Hitler’s Olympics.

If all of this sounds a little familiar, it should. The Sochi games haven’t been controversial because Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin has avowedly anti-Jewish policies, like Hitler did. Putin has a different target: gays and lesbians. In most other respects, Sochi and Berlin, however, bear eerie similarities. The boycott debate has been heard before. And the result will be the same as it was in Berlin: the boycott efforts will fail, and the Sochi games will go ahead.

They shouldn’t. While the Olympic Games are indeed about athletics, anyone who suggests they are without profound political value is an idiot. Hitler certainly believed as much, and he used Berlin to provide a smokescreen for his military plans, and the Holocaust itself. The Olympics, he enthused, “awakens the best human characteristics. It doesn’t separate, but unites the combatants in understanding and respect. It also helps to connect the countries in the spirit of peace. That’s why the Olympic Flame should never die.”

Sounds like a modern-day politician, doesn’t he? Hitler knew the Olympics’ propaganda value. He used the 1936 Berlin games for agit-prop, covering the Olympic complex with Nazi banners, and giddily promoted Aryan athleticism. The Berlin games achieved their objective: no less than the New York Times later declared that Berlin brought Nazi Germany back “in the fold of nations” and “made them human again.”

Putin, as you may have heard, doesn’t like gays very much. He has passed what he calls “homosexual propaganda” law. It outlaws promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations.” It prohibits parents and teachers from telling young Russians that gay relationships normal. It also bans pamphlets promoting gay rights. Anti-gay violence in Russia has accordingly surged, and vigilante groups have formed to hunt down LGBT Russians online.

In the lead-up to the games being held at the Black Sea resort town, however, Putin has also made reassuring sounds about understanding and respect. Sounding rather like a certain German chancellor, Putin told the head of the International Olympic Committee that “we will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. I would like to underline that.”

That, of course, is a lie. Participation in Sochi will do nothing whatsoever to advance human rights.

As in Berlin, 78 years ago, our participation will set human rights back.


Attacking Neil Young is stupid

The oil lobbyists are stupid. Every time they go after Neil Young, they draw attention to what Neil Young is saying.

In any PR campaign where you are dealing with declining interest, your best move is bringing in a celebrity. You’re not doing that to have a debate. You’re doing that to DRAW ATTENTION TO YOUR CAUSE. You win when your enemy takes the bait, and starts focussing on the celebrity.

These oil sands lobbyists, despite their millions, are frigging idiots.

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Zombie Abodes, a continuing series

Looks like a cord of logs, don’t it? Ha! It’s a zombie-proofed cabin! Click here to see more.

Problem with this one: when a horde of the undead comes after you, you shut the windows, sure.  But what happens when your supply of Ichiban Ramen runs out? Then you’re pooched.

And, yes, if you must know: I think about zombie-proofing all the time. Everyone should.


PMO had better get a lawyer

Their talking points on this organization – which I know well, and which I know to be both moderate and law-abiding – are way, way, way over-the-top.

Jason is going to get himself, and possibly his boss, sued.  Time to retract and apologize, fellas.

Story here.

 

 


Raptors come out for Olivia Chow for mayor!

Well, not really.  And she’s not a candidate, as far as I am aware, so I guess that should be kept in mind, too.

Anyway, I’m a Raptors fan, and a Chow fan, as well – so forgive my enthusiasm. So, too, is former Raps boss Peddie.  Full column here:

Looking around Toronto today, where is the leader who will champion our city? I asked this before, in a speech weeks before the last municipal election. I lamented then that we lacked candidates with leadership skills like personal values, big ideas and the edge to make the right decisions well.

I lament now that we ended up with Rob Ford and think four years is enough. Because I realized that adding bricks doesn’t only apply to companies. It applies to people, too. And we deserve better than a mayor who measures success by what he opposes and who he attacks.

In my book, I also wrote that I wanted to get involved in the 2014 election. Not as a candidate but as a citizen. So I started to ask people I respect about who they respect, and unexpectedly, kept returning to one candidate.

I had met Olivia Chow here and there over the years. She isn’t much of a sports fan and I wasn’t at NDP meetings. But over tea one afternoon, we had an engaging discussion about Toronto’s future. I came away somewhat impressed and more than a little surprised.

Impressed because of all levels of government, municipal needs to understand bricks best. Not just the bricks of infrastructure that keeps us stuck in long commutes away from family, or businesses unable to create jobs. But also the bricks of neighbourhoods and how services, parks and libraries – you know, gravy – do what MLSE’s courts and rinks do: strategically invest in long-term help for people.

Surprised because she challenged my perceptions about who she was. A product of an immigrant family that supported itself through working in a hotel laundry. And despite the partisan news coverage from Ottawa, someone who will find common values and help us build something better together.

The mark of a good mayor isn’t calling himself the best mayor ever. Instead, it’s having the experience to know that liveable neighbourhoods and prosperity flow from strategically investing. Not throwing money at tactical things, but making that money really work.

Whether she will run for mayor I don’t know. Obviously she is considering it. I certainly encouraged her to and happily offered my support. Because I am convinced that on the big picture, she gets where Toronto needs to go.

 


The Toronto Star on Olivia Chow

…or, more specifically, her new book.

“Olivia Chow’s My Journey is a gutsy book. The NDP MP and transportation critic is a public figure and while writing about one’s weaknesses has become popular, there’s less sympathy for some issues than others — such as violence against women. Attitudes are changing but not fast enough. Perhaps her book will help…She’s also not saying what she’ll do in future. Others have options for her: run for mayor of Toronto in October; stay in federal politics, or; quit altogether. At least My Journey gives her the gift of at least two months to think about the future while on a book tour.”

 


SFH: I Am A Confused Teenager

I post this not because (a) it is a Hot Nasties tune, made famous by the Palma Violets (b) or because the Hot Nasties are reuniting in Calgary this year (c) or because I am in love with my Fender Bullet bass, even though I am (d) or because I think it’s vital that you know what we were doing last night. No, I post it because (a) Davey Snot has moved from skins to strings and (b) Bjorn von Flapjack III is back keeping beat.  And neither of them were as horrifically, stupendously awful as I’d expected them to be, this being the first time either had ever played ‘I Am A Confused Teenager.’ Not bad for a couple of total degenerates.