Pssst, don't tell anyone, but I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for that large, ungainly Olympic beast known as VANOC.
You work hard under difficult circumstances, you're tied to the pooh-bahs and stultifying rules of the International Olympic Committee, you weather a recession, you have an unpopular premier crowding into every Olympic photo op under the sun, you have no compelling communications strategy, and you're not perfect, by any means. But you do your best to whip up that good old Olympic spirit and put on a good show in a peevish province where, in many social circles, daring to even whisper a word in favour of the Games produces looks of scorn, as if one just said something positive about George Bush.
And waddya get for all that effort? Stuff out of your control. Canadian border guards who think it's a threat to national security for someone crossing the border to hold views critical of the Olympics; a blinkered, by-the-book civic bureaucrat ordering an inoffensive anti-Olympic mural taken down; security police questioning native elders with the nerve to muse about a protest over Cowichan sweaters; cops posing as bus drivers to keep an eye on protesters. None of these events had anything to do with VANOC, but the image of the Olympics pays the price.
And now, we have the smarty-pants folks at Lululemon.
Having lost out in the bidding to become official suppliers of Olympic apparel, Lululemon is trying to cash in anyway, with a cheeky, too-cute-by-half clothing line, labelled "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place In British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition." Ho ho ho.
Pardon me if I don't laugh, and it's not my inner grump talking. I actually agree with VANOC brand-protector Bill Cooper, who lashed out at Lululemon for producing a clothing line that seeks to profit from the Games, while contributing little.
Of course, Lululemon is winning plaudits for appealing to the bad-boy imp in all of us, but how does anyone take company spokesman Eric Peterson seriously when he says, with an apparently straight face: "We would never do anything that we felt was ambush marketing." Yeah, right.
And since I'm clearly drunk from the VANOC's bewitching Kool-Aid, let's toss another plaudit into the mix.
On Saturday, organizers of the torch relay moved a planned rendezvous point at the then- strikebound Museum of Civilization in Ottawa so that the flame handover would not take place behind the workers' picket line.
"It passed by on the street right in front of us, and it was very inspiring to see the Olympic ideals being upheld," said picket-line captain Eric Pallotta. "We took it as a given they wouldn't cross the picket line."
Delivery, not directions, are their strong suit
A tale from the trenches.
Olympic sponsor Purolator has the slogan "Helping Deliver the Games" emblazoned on its fleet of trucks in Vancouver. Given my experience, I'm not quite sure that it means what it says.
To wit, most Olympic tickets bought online are being delivered to your doorstep this month by Purolator.
Of course, it's not much good for anyone who works to have the courier arrive at noon on a weekday. No one's home. We're all slaving under the jackboots of corporate henchmen.
But a note was left, directing us to collect the tickets at a far-off depot in Richmond. Off we went on a busy, pre-Christmas Saturday, grumbling all the way, only to find when we got there that it was a big mistake.
We should have been ordered to a counter in the industrial wasteland of beautiful Burnaby. Oh, and that Purolator location is closed on weekends. Thanks for that.
"Helping Deliver the Games", indeed. Yeah, I know. Whine whine whine…
And In this corner, Vancouver councillors
By the way, it's Christmas next week, or, as culturally sensitive Lululemon would call it: A Cool Stocking-Stuffing Event Between Dec. 24 & Dec. 26.
In honour of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, Vancouver city council just approved the staging of mixed martial arts in the city. Yet another sign of civilization's steady advancement in the 21st century.
Thank you, councillors Meggs, Jang, Chow, Anton, Stevenson and Deal for this pre-Yuletide gift with the blood-red ribbons.
In fact, if you listened closely, you could hear them yell, as they drove out of sight: "Merry Mayhem to all, and to all, a good fight!"
Oh well, at least we're still a nuclear-free zone.
A not-so-hairy holiday for all
There is no mention of Stephen Harper's hair in this final notebook of 2009.