Saturday, April 21, 2007

Recent News Roundup: "Oh (Bleep), Yeah," He Agreed

I got an acoustic guitar for my birthday! Whooooooooooo! That's the biggest news for me, of late -- but there's no shortage of big news for anybody else who's been keeping an eye out around Winnipeg in the last day or two.

The provincial election was finally called yesterday evening by Premier Gary Doer; it's going to be hard-fought and messy and dirty and ugly, which is another way of saying it should be spectacular entertainment. It's vitally important from a strategic standpoint that each party get off to as good a start as possible -- and that's why, by the end of today, all three party leaders will have made their way out to Brandon. I'm not making this up; this is actually what is happening. Now you know where the real power lies in Manitoba!

Also yesterday, scant hours before the provincial election news, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in town to formally announce Ottawa's support for the Human Rights Museum proposal via federal delegation and funding; not bad for only his third official visit to Manitoba, and I don't see his eventual fourth visit here topping his third one unless he learns how to cure cancer by glaring at it.

Meanwhile, the old Metropolitan Theatre finally found a buyer earlier this week in the Canad Inns chain; all indications are that they intend to convert the historic landmark into a... rock and roll-themed restaurant? Seriously? Am I reading that correctly?

CentreVenture CEO Ross McGowan said the new owners plan to use it as a restaurant. There are also reports the development will capitalize on Winnipeg's rock 'n' roll history.

Am I honestly the only one who can't see this ending well? We left the Metropolitan Theatre vacant for two decades, holding out for just the right proposal from just the right group, so that it could ultimately be turned into a demon hybrid of an unlicensed Hard Rock Cafe knockoff and an Aalto's?

And who, besides the top suits at Canad Inns Corporation, will get to decide what comprises the musical history of Winnipeg? Will a panel of experts from around the city gather to determine which underappreciated legends of the scene rank highest, breaking into shouting matches over whether Thursdays in the bar will be Propagandhi night or Venetian Snares night? Or does the proposed connection to Winnipeg's rock and roll history mean the house playlist will be nine songs deep, and six of them will involve Randy Bachman?

It won't be used for promoting new Winnipeg talent, I can tell you that; CentreVenture's sale clause was that the new establishment cannot compete with any of the existing downtown venues, which is another way of saying don't expect any actual live music.

And this is to be a major downtown destination. Oh, boy. Here's hoping I'll be pleasantly surprised. (And don't get me started on the state of downtown, even with the new -- cough -- destinations. That's another post in itself.)

There was one more news item I found interesting today, but first I want to frame it with a bit of background.

In the April 11th edition of the Manitoban, Jenelle Petrinchuk wrote about the dangers of quoting everyday people about important issues. See also the original post on Nick Martin's blog.

To sum up -- Winnipeg Free Press writer Nick Martin quoted individual students, unaffiliated with any organizations as spokespersons, regarding the latest budget and the continuation of the tuition freeze. Spokesperson Liz Carlyle of the Canadian Federation of Students saw this as a dishonest circumvention of the CFS platform for media-slanting purposes and took umbrage. Harsh words were exchanged and a furor was raised and the question was posed of which people can be allowed to speak for what groups and blah blah dick etcetera.

I initially considered the idea that the CFS had just maybe overreacted, a little; what could be the harm in allowing the individual man-on-the-street voice of the public to be heard?

Which brings us to today's Winnipeg Free Press, specifically the coverage of the legalization rally at the Legislature yesterday. Be sure to read it in full, noting the quoting of everyday people and individual students.

Atkinson thought the crowd was maybe "200 people... .300... (giggle)... 400... ," then he just kind of looked and looked.

Parent reckoned it was more like a few thousand.

Atkinson looked again. "Oh (bleep), yeah," he agreed. Atkinson was asked how much he had smoked.

"I don't even know," he said after a pause to gather his thoughts.

And note that the author of this particular piece -- hands up in the air, everybody who guessed it -- turns out to be, sure enough, Nick Martin.

What to make of this? On the one hand, this article is a grossly unflattering representation of the 'average' position supporting the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana; on the other hand, it is funny. So I am understandably torn.

Is the everyman-quoting tomfoolery approach a subtle Free Press injoke, an overt raspberry towards the CFS, or a cheerful coincidence? You decide, gentle reader! Let your individual opinions on today's issues ring clear and true; I'll be over here in the meantime, plugging away at the steel strings until my fingers get used to playing them again.

God, I love the spring!


k2 said...

There's political power in Manitoba? Has anyone alerted the press about this?

James Howard said...

If properly harnessed, the political power of Manitoba could almost but not quite blink an LED light on and off!