Going into Gym Bar last night to watch the Vancouver opening ceremonies, I warned my friends that I would be insufferable all evening, peppering the historic night with useless trivia about my favo(u)rite city on the continent. And I didn’t disappoint, although my friends did humo(u)r me and let me explain every nuance of the evening. I have to admit it was one of the greatest joys of my (sad, sad) life to see Vancouver shown off to the world. I’ve been going there religiously for years and have both enjoyed — and tired — of people knowing so little about it. My friend Steve didn’t believe me. (Click that damn link, Steve!)
First off, I am thrilled that on TV they keep showing where Vancouver is on the map. Maybe fewer people will think it’s near Anchorage (I often get that), when in fact, it’s closer to New York than San Francisco is.
I had frissons from the first second of the broadcast, as BC natives Kim Cattrall and Ryan Reynolds and then Vancouver’s gleaming skyline flickered onto the screen…and then I teared up (true!) when Georgia walked in just hours after the sad death of one of its own on Whistler’s slicker-than-slick luge run. (For the record, I want to die in a place as beautiful as British Columbia – the license plate isn’t lying.)
But it was when Romeo Dallaire marched in that I really flipped! So cool to see him included in the ranks of Canadian celebrity (too bad no one at the United Nations took note back in 1994, but I digress).
Two fashion observations: I’m still wondering whether Pucci or Lily Pulitzer provided Azerbaijan’s outrageous yet quite chic costumes. Entertainment Weekly gave them the distinction of having the night’s Worst Outfit. And on the flip side, I thought Michaelle Jean looked positively dazzling in her silvery bronzy suit. Someone definitely made a run into Holts before hitting BC Place. And she looked a helluva lot better than Laureen Harper, who was seated next to her and who resembled a ketchup bottle (the squeezable ones, not the svelte Heinz ones).
The bottom line?
I haven’t talked to anyone who liked the opening ceremonies. The New York Times kindly called it “tasteful.” Let’s face it: Beijing was a tough act to follow, and in 2008 China had a lot more to prove to the world than Canada does today (they also spent 10 times more than Vancouver did). The show was beautifully done — malfunctioning caldrons notwithstanding — but I think the main problem was simply the fact that it was very Canadian, and Americans don’t know much about Canada. Anything Canadian state-side requires subtitles for people to understand what’s happening. Everyone was puzzled at how indian-heavy (that’s First Nations, people!) it was. Never mind that British Columbia is basically one big native land claim. Don’t even get me started about the questions about Who the hell is Stephen Harper? and What the hell is a governor general?
(One minor post-script: Where on earth was NBC broadcasting from? In the pre-opening broadcast, one could only presume they were on a barge in Coal Harbour — perhaps at the float plane gas pumps? — if the backdrop of the Vancouver Convention Centre was to be believed. Clearly they were not.)