Tag Archives: riots

Occupy…What?

Occupy, Occupy Vancouver, politics, anarchy, protests

Focused Capture: Creative Commons

Many cities have seen the Occupy movement taking up residence for the last month or two. When it started I was in Europe and had no clue what was going on. I wasn’t reading news while traveling. One friend posted that, hey while you were gone the Occupy movement started. I asked, Occupy what? I never got an explanation.

In the weeks since I’ve been back I’ve listened to the news and I know kind of what’s on the mind of the Occupy movement, or what was once the goal. It was to show that the voice of the little people should be heard and that we’re tired of letting the 1%, the rich corporations (really, more than individuals) run everything without us having a say and without them having to pay. I came across this site that lists some of the movement’s concerns much more clearly than I’ve heard through the media, which is sometimes out for sensationalism and not out for facts.

But… but, we’re in this era of constant protest, where every large event has the anarchistic element for anarchy’s sake. Or arguing for argument’s sake and playing devil’s advocate. I’m more than a little skeptical when a tent city goes up on the art gallery’s lawn and people light a fire in direct antagonism to the fire marshal’s order of no fires, and then they call it a sacred fire. Oh, if we bring in religion and spirituality they don’t dare interfere with our fire. Haven’t we seen this before? Sacred how? What rites and rituals are going on and for how long?

The hockey game brought on riots in Vancouver, and why? Because anarchistic yahoos wanted a good time and to give it to “the man.” The riots in England; because government is bad, yeah, real bad and we’re gonna do this because they can’t stop us. That’s what some of the interviewees have said. I feel like it’s more of “here we go again.” A small vocal, possibly violent group of anarchists gather to be a thorn in the foot of government. And–they deflate any real protests that get eaten by the hungry media monster that loves conflict.

But… but, I know there are those idealists, the pure hearts who believe they’re fomenting change, that they’re being effective as they vote at their general assemblies to do this or that. But they have no central voice, no true leader and therefore the message gets lost in the noise. And yes, I agree that we don’t have enough voice in what goes on. And this lead to me being in a hard situation once when I needed welfare and was denied it because of silly rules. So what happens, we have a few people who entrench themselves downtown but theh message of Occupy for 99% gets lost and then these people are the 1% as well; just a different 1%. And I guess I’m just cynical enough to believe that the message won’t get across and won’t change anything.

Yet, maybe some of these people will tr to get into politics and one things is for sure: if you’re American you need to be a millionaire to run in US politics, but that’s not true here. Some of the best ways to foment change is from the inside. But then do you become the beast you’re fighting? Possibly, but I just don’t feel Occupy with actually last long. It’s more like a nasty wart on the ass of the corporations. But soon it will be excised and forgotten about.

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Play Review: Yippies in Love

yippies, hippies, Vancouver riots, Vancouver history, sit in, be in, property damage

Bob Sarti's "Yippies in Love" at the Cultch until July 3rd

The play Yippies in Love had its preview on Wednesday, June 22 at the Cultch, Vancouver’s east-side theater and “Culture Lab.” On until July 3rd, perhaps it would have been better named “Yippies in Confusion.” Done by Theatre in the Raw, this low budget musical had a minimalist set, which didn’t bother me as a play is more about the dialogue and the story. With a few black blocks, a tickle trunk of props, two coat racks of costumes and a screen that showed old footage of the Yippie culture, we kept our attention on the actors.

Yippies, it turns out, were revolutionary hippies. They didn’t just believe in peace and love but in rabble rousing, provoking and marching on the US embassy and Oakalla prison. They had about a two-year heyday in Vancouver’s early 70s culture, which saw police heavy handedly beating and arresting dozens of people. This was something I didn’t know about my city’s tarnished past and the play was enlightening in this aspect.

The confusion in this play happens on several levels and I confess that sometimes I just don’t get musicals. Is it a comedy musical, or a drama musical or perhaps just a venue for songs? I don’t think producer/director Jay Hamburger or composer Bill Sample knew themselves. It felt as if the tone of the Yippie values might be too serious or radical for the audience so they softened the views with songs. The songs, with lyrics by playwright Bob Sarti, were derivative, with some being of the 50s, others with tones of “Crocodile Rock” or other hits of the past. But they didn’t  have the feel of the ideals of the era being portrayed. How did  a song more suited to Grease fit into provocateurs in the 70s? The music was executed well, and the songs “Reach Out and Touch” and “It’s So Hard” were the best, while others like the incredibly goofy dancing marijuana joints singing “Dancin’ Doobies” seemed gratuitous without much substance.

Costumes pretty much amounted to someone going through people’s closets or thrift stores and getting what sort of, maybe, not always looked like 60s/70s era clothing and a few props like jackets or police hats. Makeup looked like it was left up to the actors, which meant none for the men. Now it’s a small venue so you can see their faces but one of the men (possibly Bing Jensen though the actor doesn’t match the picture in the program book) was much older than the rest of the cast who are playing people in their 20s. Though he had the deeper voice used in the music (baritone?) he was as white as a sheet, seemed to react to every hat placed on his head with red splotching, and for having such a deep voice he was hardly heard. Some makeup would have made him look like he wasn’t half dead. While he seemed animated enough he was also expressionless and a bit wooden for much of the play. The other actors (Emily Rowed,  Rebecca Shoichet) were competent and sung well but the material wasn’t something where they could shine. Danielle St. Pierre (Julie) has done a fair amount of theater and she was the strength of the piece. Steve Maddock (Andy) was good though I felt he overacted a bit.

We have to remember that this play is called Yippies in Love but even that was confusing. While Andy seems to love Julie all she wants is a special friend and the play ends with everyone going their separate ways, leaving you with the thought that they raised a little hell but accomplished nothing but living on welfare and tossing bricks through bank windows. Not much love there. Sarti says all the actions are based on true facts, and the play meanders from “be-in” to housemate chatting, to smoking pot,  to a trial, to sort of running for mayor. Perhaps this wandering very well exemplifies the way of the yippie but it only seemed to highlight the overall reactionary and militant actions of this group. This was also a little unfortunate in timing, one week after the riots that happened during the Stanley Cup finals. So, when the Yippies invade Blaine and throw bricks through a bank window it was hard to get into their exhilaration.

After the play concluded and the cast took their bows (Vancouverites will clap for nearly anything) they sang a rap song about doing it from the bottom or some such, encouraging radical protests from the grass-roots perspective. They named a lot of different social protest groups in Vancouver including Black Box. These yahoos were responsible for trying to cause riots during the Olympics and marching down the street, wearing black hoods with their faces covered. Such protests don’t actually further a cause but just cause anarchy for anarchy’s sake. This romantic romp through Vancouver’s past anarchic protesters got across the point of how pointless it all is. Maybe that’s the message. If so, it succeeded.

I went with three other friends and two wanted to leave at the intermission. I wanted to stay so I could write a complete review. The other person was hoping for some closure. I’m being generous and would give Yippies in Love two peace signs out of five.

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