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The Vancouver riot picture everyone's talking about

Riot police walk in the street as a couple kiss on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver broke out in riots after their hockey team the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Rich Lam/Getty Images

If it was a brazen attempt to get attention - and not, as the romantics among us might (idealistically) hope, a moment of unbridled passion - then it worked brilliantly. A photo of a young couple lying lip-locked in each other's arms in the middle of a Vancouver street, following the brutal defeat of the Canucks in the Stanley Cup last night, has become internet gold, popping up everywhere, from blogs to news sites to Facebook.

The picture was shot as police were trying to control rioters after the Bruins defeated the home team 4-0. At first, photographer Richard Lam, who works for Getty Images, thought the woman was hurt and the guy was helping her out - that is, he says, until they started making out.

"They were in no-man's land," he says, remembering the couple lying in a space between where police were parting two separate crowds. "I don't know how they got there." With the police using tear gas and pepper spray, he was eventually pushed back down the street. "There were a lot of crazy people out there, let me tell you."

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Staged or not, the picture is certainly pretty - a cynic might note the revealing-and-yet-not-too-revealing way our mystery woman's skirt is hitched up her thigh and the movie-scene cast of the light from a parking garage. But making out in the midst of a riot (or celebration, for that matter) is hardly a new invention. One iconic image will always be the American sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in the midst of victory celebrations in August 1945, when World War Two was declared officially over. ( Someone also captured a shot of the couple from above, with curious onlookers standing around them, prompting people to speculate online that it was an assault - though Mr. Lam says that was not what he saw, and he didn't see police intervene.)

At least the picture gave us something more fun to talk about this morning than the Cup being stolen once again from Canadian clutches and senseless thugs looting stores for fun. ( Take this guy, for instance, boasting openly on Facebook about how he knocked down a police officer and "flipped some cars": "I'm on the news," he chortles. "One word....History :):):))."

As for our amorous couple, Mr. Lam said he lost sight of them in the confusion, "There was a lot going on." So the search is on to find them (if our mystery lovers happen to be reading this, pop us an e-mail at

We'll take kissing over looting any day.

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Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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