Friday, April 11, 2008

Today's Province Column

We need quality architecture, art and music to remain a vibrant city

David Berner
The Province
Friday, April 11, 2008

Today, thousands of people will be taking part in protests in front of CBC buildings across the country. They have called this a "National Day of Action to Save CBC Radio 2 and the CBC Radio Orchestra."

Seems like a good occasion to reflect on what we may mean when we speak of "culture" here on the wet edge.

I am in complete sympathy with those who have decried this move by CBC brass to dismantle the last remaining radio orchestra in North America, and a damn good one to boot.

To disable this treasure under the guise of saving less than a million dollars is to define the old adage, "penny- wise and pound-foolish."

But what is even more offensive is the ready answer from so many citizens: "Good, kill the damn thing, I don't want my tax money paying for a government radio/TV/Internet mess."

Yes, the CBC needs a major overhaul. It wanders in mandarin deserts, showing a thousand faces to the shifting sands of taste. It is rarely mindful of a central vision or purpose, in spite of the fact that its core values are written into national legislation.

But, it is an important and valuable institution. Disband it and you will have the choice of rap or rap and pap or pap.

For all its sorry mistakes, the CBC brings us, albeit in ever-decreasing small doses, the alternate programming that commercial broadcasters will never offer.

The same hick town outrage emerged when the B.C. government announced on March 7 a $50-million gift to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a possible re-location from its present site at Georgia and Howe. "Spend that money on homelessness" went the cry.

Of course, we should spend many, many millions on building adequate housing for the homeless.
But what's that got to do with funding the art gallery? This is not an either/or proposition.

And while we're at it, how about the federal government spending $100 million on the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the Vancouver Museum?

Did you know that secreted away in the dusty bowels of that A-frame on Kits Beach are genuine artifacts from the Titanic?

You've never seen them because there is no space to show them. This is not a Leonardo DiCaprio movie. This is the real thing.

This city exists and functions because it is a port. It's those freighters in English Bay that take away potash and bring in Toyotas and blue jeans that make the place tick. Shouldn't we celebrate that?

On Tuesday night, Vancouver trumpeter Brad Turner, bassist Jodi Prosnick and Cellar Jazz Club owner and record producer Cory Weeds swept the National Jazz Awards. That too is an important part of West Coast culture.

City Hall announced on March 27 another $11 million for the beer strip known as Granville Mall. This is somebody's idea of culture?

We need music and architecture and art.

Without them, life is one long dental appointment.

Parading Killers is Not a Go in Canada

More Kudos to Surrey mayor Dianne Watts.

She has refused to appear on a float or stage in this weekend's Vaisakhi parade unless the organizers remove their homages to killers.

Killers, whome they call martyrs.

That includes the assassins of Indira Ghandi and the masterminds of the Air India bombings that murdered 331 people.

One of the parade organizers had the gall to assert that showing a picture of the Air India psycho is the same as putting up a picture of Jesus Christ in a church.

Maybe I don't know my New Testament very well. Jesus killed people? Bombed airplanes out of the sky?

Oh, yah, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Talwinder...

I Have Friends in Blank Places

Video of taser victim erased?

Oh, please.

What was Nixon's secreraty's name? The lady who accidently leaned left one day and erased 18 minutes od damning evidence against President Sneaky.

Headlines we wait for

"Number of Gangsters in BC Rising"

Yah...and that doesn't even include the legislature and the houses of parliament.

Minding the Store?

I don't know enough about the subtleties involved in the MDA sale of its satellite Radarsat-2 to a US company to make a definitive comment, but I sure find it puzzling.

Perhaps you can shed some light on this story.

The Federal government has blocked this sale. While many of us, self included, often decry the selling off of valuable Canadian companies to foreign interests, we are also usually committed to the idea that one has the freedom to sell one's products and services, be they legitimate, to anyone we please.

Furthermore, deals like this are done every day.

Or is this deal truly a threat to our own sovereignty? You tell me.

Another Wrong Hero

I forgot yesterday to make mention - probably because I was so disgusted - of the Kaiser Foundation award to Sun writer, Peter McKnight, for what they claim is his marvelous insights into the problems of addictions.

Rarely has anyone shown so LITTLE understanding of the issues.

What McKNight fathoms of the core mechanics of addictions can be put in a thimble and leave room for a barn dance.

He writes with considerable bravo and arrogance from a hopelessly ill-informed, intellectual point of view. Has he ever met an addict?

He is highly opinionated. So am I. The only difference is that, on this matter, I happen to know what I'm talking about and he doesn't.

His conclusions are reached before the end of the first sentence.

This award is so terribly undeserving and brings the very nature of the Kaiser Foundation into question.