Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not in Vancouver, but Still Lovin' Vancouver Links

The other day, someone emailed me to say, "Hey, looks like you're in Vancouver, hope you're enjoying it!"

Sadly or happily, I am not in Vancouver, just enjoying various net manifestations of it. Here's two items on that theme that caught my eye today.

1) On the sad Vancouver front: Vancouver Olympics one of most challenging ever for journalists from J-source.ca. This blog post looks at what happens when media "sponsor" an event--Are they obliged to be positive about it? How do readers think the influence is working? Writes BC Civil Liberties Association Director David Eby,

As ugly as it is out there for a journalist who wants to write critical stories [about the Games], what is less apparent is that the current environment in Vancouver is also bad news for those who want to write an honest to goodness positive story about the Games. Nobody will believe them.

It’s hard to blame the public for being skeptical about anything published by the corporate entities that control all of our local news but also have a major business stake in the Games. Even if, as it often is, the story published is of the highest quality either positive or negative, our journalists have been forced to become the story, and as a result, they have had to give up their cherished observer status.

More than anything, journalists should rue this loss.

One wonders how these types of ethical questions might relate to media sponsoring art events... it ain't a crime, and is far less dramatic, but questions of credibility still often arise for the reader, perhaps?

2) On the happy Vancouver front: If only there were gold medals for pin collecting from the Tacoma News-Tribune. This article offers a fascinating/absurd look into a truly obscure collecting subculture--almost as obscure as art!?--the "pinheads". As staff writer Craig Hill reports,

Today, pin collecting is such a popular part of the games that Vancouver2010.com sells more than 300 types of pins and even a bag designed for carrying them.

Media, sponsors and even activist groups promote their organizations by circulating pins at the games.

In Vancouver, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will distribute a pin depicting the games’ mascot bludgeoning a seal. The group hopes to encourage Olympic organizers to take a stance against Canada’s sealing industry.

The epicenter of pin collecting in Vancouver is a large trading zone packed with licensed sellers and areas where collectors can wheel and deal. Regardless of whether you’re interested in pins, [Tacoma pin collector Greg] Murphy says, it’s worth dropping by to take in the spectacle.

“It is a frenzy,” he said. “You might not expect it if you haven’t seen it before, but it will blow you away.”

Murphy says it’s not uncommon for him to be surrounded by so many people that he can’t move.

“I come out of their sweating like a competitor in the Olympics,” he said.

Pin collectors are easy to spot at the winter games. They typically wear a scarf covered with pins. Murphy puts up to 300 on his.

“It’s so heavy it gives me a headache,” said Murphy’s girlfriend, Cindy Berg.


The hobby isn’t all fun and games. It has a dark side.

“I’ve seen fistfights when a couple people want the same pin,” Murphy said.

He was nearly arrested at the 2004 Summer Games in Greece when he was accused of selling pins without a permit. He’s also had pins stolen off his scarf. Some people deal in counterfeit pins.

A 40-year-old Vancouver trader agreed to talk to The News Tribune only if identified by his online pin-trading handle, Rabbit-Horse.

“There is massive gossip and drama in pin trading,” Rabbit-Horse said. “It’s worse than high school.”

Somehow I think it's the quotes in this story that are gold. Sweat! Fistfights! Worse than high school! Dark sides! Sore necks! Bludgeoned seal activism! Made my day, I tell you. And on top of that, it just makes me happy to think about pin-demonium. I have no clue why.

Image of the official Vancouver 2010 pin album from 2010VanFan

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