When we criticize the city or the Olympics for certain inanities (curtailing of civil liberties, washing away 'graffiti' because city officials don't know what art is, or using military-grade hardware for crowd control) it's because we want to live in a place that respects its citizens. If something seems silly, disrespectful or downright stupid, we feel we should...nay, we feel it is our duty to call them out on it.
That's why I find it interesting to see the comment sections of online media stories where citizens of the Pollyanna variety repeat the theme "the world is coming, so don't put the city down in front of the guests." Something akin to, "You shouldn't air your dirty laundry."
This, alas, makes no sense. In fact, if there's any positive outcome to be had from these Olympics, it's precisely that Vancouver will be shamed into changing some ridiculous laws or improving transportation systems for the benefit of it's citizens who are looking for something more to be proud of.
Because, while I think the mountains are pretty, I wouldn't want my guests be arrested for dancing, which is what I was threatened with last Summer when getting up to dance to a great band at The Libra Room on Commercial Drive. In hindsight, I'm so sorry I didn't stay put. I would wear being arrested for dancing like a proud badge.
And if someone from the outside world came and said, "Hey, what's up with this ridiculous law that you could be arrested for dancing?" I'd be hard pressed to defend it. "How dare you come to my city and suggest that we be allowed to get 'jiggy wid it' with impunity? We're not that kind of city, sir. I bid you good day!" Um, not gonna happen.
Or maybe, after the Olympics, the city might realize that there should never be parking on Granville or Oak Street between 16th and 70th, where they now have 24 hour restrictions for the entire month of February. For God sake, It's a major route in and out of the city. I think I'll just drive up and down Granville Street for the entire month for the sheer pleasure of not meeting a parked car, where there should never be one in the first place!
If you want to run with the big dogs, then you've got to act like one. Every city wants to be 'world class' but surely a minor requirement is to not treat your citizens like children. While I don't care much what's going on with the kids getting hammered and puking their guts out while underdressed on the Granville strip on a Saturday night, it would be nice if new, interesting bars or restaurants could get a license where the grown-ups can gather for a conversation after a play, art gallery visit or new music concert.
So if the outside world has a bit of a laugh at our expense, that's fine. My hope is that it will lead to positive change for those of us who actually live here.
Too much to ask? Well screw it. First Albanian tourist I see dancing is going down. (Albania: expected athletes: 1)