Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Place in Your Heart (But Not Really), or: I've Got Woes in Different Area Codes

[Retroactively added to the Slurpees and Murder Record Club.]

I've got quite the treat lined up for you folks today! But, first, the obligatory hype segment for my output through other, more respectable channels.

Uptown Magazine! History will be made!

You can read my most recent column here, and I fully recommend you do so in preparation of the inevitable complainfest set to erupt within the next year or two. The addition of an extra area code in the years to come means that we as a city will finally have to dial all ten digits of a phone number, and preliminary internet reaction indicates that we as a city are about to lose our shit about it. So when somebody you know gets particularly uppity about it and insists that we did just fine with seven numbers, or declares that the new area code should be relegated to the outer limits of the province (by which they will mean "everywhere past Perimeter Highway"), please feel free to refer them to this article.

Read that? Good! Then let's move on to the next article of business.

Remember how I'd mentioned my new cassette player in the previous post? Well, it turns out that the thing only spat out sound in the right channel, so after much trial and tribulation I had to take the sucker back and grab a second one. The folks at Nermen's were more than accommodating, of course, and I did eventually walk away with a fully working cassette player, so you get to reap the rewards of my slogging and enjoy the sound files that I am about to present to you.

We as a province are currently still stuck in the throes of Manitoba Homecoming 2010, which is expected to linger until January rolls around and the promotional powers that be realize that they have no commissioned theme song for 2011. So, while we're here, why not explore some of our past attempts at tricking outsiders into visiting our barren, crime-riddled wasteland?


Manitoba: A Place in Your Heart, Travel Manitoba, undated. (No, really; neither the cassette itself nor its accompanying materials list a publication date. Strange!)

I seem to recall the "Place in Your Heart" slogan being used in the mid-nineties, let's say 1994 or 1995, but I'm not certain enough about it that I would attempt to stamp the promotional campaign as such. And the rest of the internet, perhaps surprisingly, is no help about it; for better or for worse I'm the de facto online authority about this nonsense, so I'll try my best to be an authoritive resource on the subject.

These are the front and back, respectively, of the paper inset that came with a cassette I bought for a dollar at a local Salvation Army. These are my credentials.

But don't take my word for it! Outdated and potentially embarrassing as they are, I am declaring the following MP3 files required listening:

Travel Manitoba - Discover Winnipeg! Discover a City with Spirit! (Side One) (Manitoba: A Place in Your Heart, year unknown)
Travel Manitoba - Down Country Roads to the Great Outdoors! (Side Two) (Manitoba: A Place in Your Heart, year unknown)
[ site | normally I'd link here to purchasing info and band websites, but this was free to distribute and its performers are (perhaps wisely) lost to time so oh well ]

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Now, let's put aside for the moment that the whole thing sounds like a 1950s training video. In considering our current provincial promotional campaign, what methods did our forebearers use to draw tourists and travellers to our lands? The answer, as revealed by this culturally and historically significant cassette tape, is twofold. One of the approaches (folds, if you will) involved musical interludes to begin and end each side of the tape; one such interlude sounds suspiciously like a Kate Bush impersonator (check out the beginning of side two -- yeah, that's from the 1990s, all right), and all such interludes sound suspiciously reminiscent of the Most Wanted Music project. But the other approach to Manitoba tourism, as represented by the non-musical majority of this cassette, was founded on a tried-and-true pillar of advertising -- which is to say, outright lies.

Consider the following excerpts:

"Travelling into Winnipeg, you'll see just how exciting a place it is."

This is a lie. (Or a really, really depressing truth, depending on your point of view.)

"Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital city, has something for everyone."

This is also a lie.

"Winnipeg's night spots are just what the doctor ordered."

Yeah, no. Considering the glut of stabbings, Winnipeg's night spots are really the very last thing that any doctor would recommend.

Then a random Chinese woman just starts SCREAMING AT US at 4:24, which is probably better off not being discussed, so let's move on:

"If you love to shop 'til you drop, Winnipeg is the place for you!"

From your own experience -- how many people do you know that drive down to North Dakota just to shop at all the places, and all the prices, not offered here in Winnipeg?

"For a change of pace, take the family to an IMAX adventure! Words cannot describe the sights and sounds of IMAX."

This... is probably more a matter of historical perspective than a modern falsehood, so let's let this one slide for now.

"Winnipeg's festivals are virtually unsurpassed."

Oh, don't even -- are you kidding me? We hold Folklorama in high school gymnasiums, and we always have. Come on, honestly.

"There's always lots to see and do, and experience, in Winnipeg!"



"Few places in North America, if any, rival Manitoba's splendour."

This is subjective, yes. But still pretty false.

"Manitoba has everything you could possibly want in a vacation. (. . .) Manitoba is a tourist's paradise."

I can't even properly start in on these points without giving myself an aneurysm, so let me just say this: what we should have, along all the highways that cross our borders, are giant road signs reading "FOR FUCK'S SAKES LOCK YOUR CAR DOORS AT ALL TIMES".

"We are proud of our multicultural heritage, and it shows."

Yeah, uh, not exactly. A quick glance at the various comments sections of the Winnipeg Free Press website indicate that this statement is extremely false.

"When talking about Eastern Manitoba, one has to mention Steinbach."

haha what

Winnipeggers basically treat Steinbach the same way New Yorkers treat New Jersey, let's not kid ourselves here.

"World-class, and we do mean world-class, fishing is found in virtually every lake in Manitoba's North."

Ouch, 'world-class'. There's that adjective again! At least it's good to know that we're no less relentlessly insecure now than we were fifteen (or so) years ago.

So, yeah, our previous attempts at luring tourism and immigration weren't really any more successful than our current one is. But I hope this little historical study was educational, nonetheless; heck, I'd spin these sound files into a techno remix, or something, if I had the tools to do so. Alas, not! Alas not.

Manitoba: A Place in Your Heart!


The View from Seven said...

That bit about Winnipeg as a shopping destination reminded me of a comment that someone posted on the WFP's web site the other day. It was in response to "Concerned Reader", who wrote to Miss Lonelyhearts with a complaint about how shabbily some people dress in Winnipeg.

"Shopping at Value Village and the Salvation Army, as [another reader] suggested, are also great options," the commentator wrote.

Value Village and Salvation Army as "great options"? No wonder we see Fargo (never mind Montreal, Sydney, San Francisco or Paris) as a style mecca!

On the other hand, I can't complain that men's wear is perpetually discounted at The Bay in order to keep cash flow up.

Grant said...

Firstly -- perhaps the telecos should try to market this second area code by calling it "world-class dialing"?

Secondly, why wouldn't they include the Winnipeg Folk Fest -- one of Winnipeg's few actual "world class" things -- in the list of Summer Festivals? Because it's all the way in Birds Hill?

Thirdly, I am about to Internet-sleuth. Let's go!

That list of summer festivals probably lines up pretty good with summer weekends, so we can probably nail down a year, if we look closely at the calendar.

Wow, that turns out to be hard.

Luckily, if you go to the history page for the Children's Festival ( you can see all their program covers.

Some of them are quite small and difficult to squint out, but the dates are clear on 1994 and 1995 -- and they rule out those years.

1993 is also ruled out.

1990, 1991 and 1992 are too tiny to make out, but they could be candidates. The cover for 1996 is missing.

My eyes say 1992 is the likeliest possibility. Of course, this hinges on Tourism Manitoba not messing up the dates.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I'm not the only one. Good rant and Happy homecoming ( vomit )

Emily Jane said...

LOL. Manitoba has a place in my heart if my heart has been stabbed by a bargain hunter trying to grab the last turkey on Dec. 24. Since I started working downtown my regard for the city has PLUMMETED. Did you read my "downtown Winnipeg" experience the other week? Involving a SNOTROCKET IN THE FACE? Enough to make me pack my bags and go back to England!!

Daisy said...

Oh my gosh, you made me laugh. There are few things I enjoy more than to hear someone poke fun at cliché and rhetoric.

Enjoying your posts.