Monday, February 22, 2010

A Purim Parable of Vancouver Olympics

Following is a re-telling of the story of Esther which is told as part of the celebration of Purim. It has been written to replicate the structure of the Megillah Esther (Book of Esther).

Evidently, this parable is thoroughly fictionalized with great liberties taken to make it seem coherent and relevant. Somehow, I suspect that the story told in the Megillah Esther is similarly embellished with a greater importance placed on its moral content and dramatic impact than on an actual historical event.

Please consider joining me at Ahavat Olam's Purim party the evening of February 27th 2010. (6184 Ash Street, Vancouver - bring something to eat and *drink*)


Chapter 1:  An Opulent Banquet

The IOC holds an opulent banquet in their own honor and demands that Vancouver’s cultural community donate their services to put on a spectacular and transcendental show of epic proportions. 

The Union of Vancouver Artists decline and the IOC is furious.  Vancouver artists will be black listed from international creative opportunities for eternity as retribution to this affront.

Chapter 2: A New Cultural Ambassador and a Foiled Plot

The marketing consultants of the IOC suggest that it is important to have a semblance of local cultural representation at the Olympics. They create a short-list of potential Cultural Ambassadors to organize and represent cultural activities in the city. Finally, the Downtown East Side Artist Collective is awarded the honor of being the Vancouver Olympics Cultural Ambassador.

Meanwhile, their parent organization, The Downtown East Side Resident’s Association learn of a plot by the Western Canadian Concept Party to use the Olympics to declare British Columbia a white Christian state. The IOC investigates and discovers that their ranks have been infiltrated by white supremacist activists. The plot is quietly thwarted.

Chapter 3: Authority Challenged

Frustrated with the lack of efficiency of the planning, the IOC appoints the Vancouver Olympic Authority to take charge of the city and to pull off a great Olympics. The Vancouver Olympic Authority quickly gets to work and institutes a set of draconian laws that forbid a range of activities that include, reading newspapers in public, talking on the phone in public places and selling sardines marinated with dill. Defiant, the Downtown East Side Residents Association calls upon their community to boycott these measures. Out of their storefront office they distribute caseloads of the offending sardines.
The indignant Vancouver Olympic Authority decides that arresting and shutting down the Resident Association is not enough. The entire Downtown Eastside population must be liquidated. Busses are contracted to move all residents to an internment camp in upstate Washington.

Chapter 4: The Necessity of Intervention

The Downtown East Side Resident Association contacts the Cultural Collective and brings them up to speed, urging the Collective to intercede. The Cultural Collective is divided. They have worked hard to receive their recognition and are uncertain if they should risk destroying their fledgling careers for the sake of their peers.

Finally once they realize that there are plans to bulldoze the Downtown Eastside and develop condos, their mind is made up. They will confront the IOC and expose the ineptitude of the Vancouver Olympic Authority.

Chapter 5: The Cultural Collective Receives an Audience

The  Cultural Collective heads to the five star hotel where the IOC is staying. They wait nervously in the lobby as the receptionist calls up to the room they are not even sure if the IOC will remember appointing them to their position and it is forbidden to loiter in hotel lobbies. The Collective members are anxious that they may be arrested.

To their relief, there are welcomed into the IOC hotel suite. The Collective members propose that a concert be organized in the IOC’s honour and that the Vancouver Olympic Authority also be invited as an honorary guest.

The concert is a great success and the IOC proposes that more cultural content be programmed into the Olympics. The Collective suggests that before moving ahead with that, they would like to have the IOC and Vancouver Olympic Authority to another event that will be even more special than the previous.
Embolden by the show of support from the Cultural Collective, the Vancouver Olympic Authority begins to accept proposals from Condo developers on the re-development of the entire Downtown East-Side.

Chapter 6: Rewarding Loyalty

A marketing consultant meets with the IOC to review the general popularity of the Olympic movement. Their research has determined that a pivotal moment in public opinion came about with the arrest of Canada Concept Party officials. The public at that moment could concretely understand the values and goals of the Olympic movement. The marketing consultant strongly recommends that the IOC better capitalize on this popular issue.

The IOC summons the Vancouver Olympic Authority for counsel and asks how those who saved the Olympic public aura be honored.

Thinking they themselves were to be honored, the Vancouver Olympic Authority unveils their plans for the construction of a huge monument in their own honor on the current site of the Downtown East-Side Community Center.

Chapter 7: Sinister Plot Revealed

With the IOC and Vancouver Olympic Authority executive waiting in their seats, the Downtown East-Side Cultural Collective begins a program in a very intimate theatre. In a flourish of music, the performers abruptly stop their program and solemnly gather on stage and ardently explain the plight of their community.

The finger is pointed directly at the Vancouver Olympic Authority and an intrepid report exposes the plans for the Condo redevelopment of the Downtown East-side. These plans are immediately cancelled.

The IOC suddenly mortified by the corruption and abuses of power, disbands the Vancouver Olympic Authority. An agreement is reached where in, the members of the Vancouver Olympic Authority agree to move into Downtown East-side low-income housing in exchange for the dismissal of corruption charges.

Chapter 8: A New Civic Policy

The Downtown East-Side Citizen’s Association is appointed to be the special advisory body on the local integration of the Olympics in local communities.

A change of policy is effectuated so that the opulent Vancouver Olympic festivities are opened up to residents of the city who will enjoy free access to a program of great events and activities.

Chapter 9: Justice and Equality Prevail

The Olympics are a great success in the city of Vancouver. Spontaneous pot-lucks and learn-ins erupt all through the city. Guests are welcomed into a city that has confirmed justice and equality, as its guiding principle.

Chapter 10: The People’s Struggle will be Recorded

This story of the people’s struggle and achievement has been well documented by the likes of the late Howard Zinn  and Rigoberta Menchu and the city of Vancouver is still inspired by the proud and courageous struggles of the Downtown Eastside organizers.

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