Archive for the ‘film & TV’ Category

The “Non-Partisan” Association, Vancouver’s zombie political party

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

NPA Vancouver

This post is for Vancouverites who are either new to the city or who are urban or civic politics nerds but may not be acquainted with the early historical roots of the local civic political party known—somewhat hilariously—as the Non Partisan Association (NPA). In power for many years, the NPA was recently all-but eliminated by a new developer-funded party, Vision Vancouver. However, lately the NPA seems to be attempting a zombie return from the dead, so a review of its history seems useful.

Some excerpts from the 1967 Vancouver Sun article above (read it here (jpg)]:

“It was the success of the CCF—now NDP [now COPE]—at the local level in the civic elections of 1936 which was a second major factor in the organization of the NPA [the first was the move from a ward system to an at-large system in 1936]… [I]ts purpose was to keep CCF-socialist politics out [of city hall]… Unquestionably the NPA has been the “party” of the west side of the city, and has helped to maintain the split of east-side west-side which has been of fundamental importance in the politics of Vancouver for nearly 50 years. Because NPA candidates have dominated the civic boards for 30 years, west-side interests have made policy for the city for 30 years…. It was the fear of the policies and legislation which east side, “socialistic” representatives would bring to city council and civic boards, and of more importance the concern with the political power which civic office would bring them, which prompted the organization of the NPA…”

… & so on. It’s fascinating reading, revealing a party that is the furthest thing from non-partisan. Even when it pulls in candidates from across the city, it represents a particular establishment and political stripe.

By raising this party’s past I am not suggesting that a political party cannot drift from its original purpose. I’m suggesting that this one hasn’t. I would also say that it is usually difficult for an institution to alter its very DNA, and when political DNA does change, historically it has been infinitely more common to see a drift from left to right (via a co-optation by business interests) than to see a drift in the other direction. Certainly it seems very unlikely that a party this genetically close to west side and business establishment interests will be truly interested in, for example, the open government and “transparency” issue it has now mounted on its campaign like a parade float mascot.

While the NPA’s activities may have been more benign during certain periods—say, the administration of Mayor Philip Owen in the 1990s—it is worth taking a look at the most recent NPA regime of Mayor Sam Sullivan. Sullivan’s euphemistic “ecodensity” program turbo-charged the tower development bonanza that is laying waste to this city’s affordability and built heritage, and that Vision Vancouver has even further accelerated but just under a different name.

Which takes me to my next point, that the incumbent faux-green party Vision Vancouver is no alternative to the NPA. Vision Vancouver and the NPA have a great deal in common, not least their identical corporate real estate funders. While Vision is backed by an NDP element, its  ties to the construction industry’s unions have only rendered it more friendly to rampant luxury developers and property speculators. This is all shorthand for a much more complicated situation that I’m not going to footnote or otherwise elaborate on here. Much ink has been spilled on this topic, and better ink than this.

Tactically speaking I believe the best we can hope for in the November 2014 civic election is a minority civic government. We then at least have a small chance of getting some traction. I will be supporting a number of candidates (TBA) including the three Green council candidates Adriane Carr, Pete Fry and Cleta Brown, and Keith Higgins and Gayle Gavin of COPE (with Meena Wong for Mayor). These parties do not take developer donations. In the second-most unaffordable city in the world relative to median income, a distinction Vancouver has won the past three years in a row, we need to try something else.

Vancouver did many things right in the 70s. Most of the things it is now rightly famous for were the work of more progressive administrations, not of the most recent developer-funded administrations. We need to return to a progressive civic politics. Bike lanes and faux-transparency do not a progressive housing agenda make.

The intention of this post, hastily written in the news doldrums of pre-election summertime, is merely to provide a little interesting reading on the topic of the NPA’s ancient history. Maybe this is also a bid for some consciousness of civic history in this famously amnesiac town.

Here is a link to a 5 MB jpg of the news story above. Feel free to download.

Alternatively take a look at this useful 1976 grad thesis on the origins of the NPA (PDF).

 

Goodbye Mork

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Shazbot. Sad loss of Robin Williams today. Thanks for the many laughs.

Robin Williams Mork

And Robin before a Senate committee on preventing homelessness

Mick Jagger in Peru

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Cuzco - woven mantas in antique weaving shop

Cuzco Mick Jagger textile shop

I was talking to the very knowledgeable owner of a shop of antique weaving in Cuzco, Peru, and after a while he mentioned that Mick Jagger had been in the shop two years before. When I asked if Jagger was in Peru to do a gig, he said no, he had come to see Machu Picchu. I guess he he missed it the first time he was in Peru, when he came to shoot Fitzcarraldo with Werner Herzog in 1980. Sadly—or not depending on how you feel about Jagger’s acting—he didn’t make it into the final film. Jason Robards had originally been cast as Fitzcarraldo and Jagger was to play his sidekick, but when Robards developed amoebic dysentery and had to bow out, thus delaying shooting, Jagger could no longer continue because the Stones were cutting an album. In a way I’m glad because I think Robards was spectacularly wrong for the role. Watch the video if you want to see his hammy and lightweight performance. But Jagger seemed promising as the simpleton sidekick. Some disagree. In the end it was probably fortunate that the role went to Kinski, and I can’t imagine Jagger tolerating Kinski’s on-set tantrums and quasi-criminal manic episodes.

The textile collection in this shop should be in a museum. The Peruvian government should consider paying the market price for its entire collection and displaying it all. It’s a crime that these pieces are slowly leaving the country. They represent multiple eras from every region of the country, and every one contains a message. What appear to be geometric designs are often animals representing family and cosmological origins and relationships. There is so little hand weaving left in the world. Much as I would like to collect more of it myself, it seems wrong to see it scattered to the winds even if that means Mick Jagger’s place.

Fitcarraldo - Mich Jagger and Jason Robards inIquitos

Peru Cuzco textiles shop weaving

Fitcarraldo Mick Jagger and Jason Robards in Iquitos, Peru

Jagger playing the fool in Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo

New Edward Snowden interview, conducted by German television

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

liveleak

Pretty interesting interview on German television and now distributed on LiveLeak. Worth watching. He’s very articulate, and Canada’s CSEC is mentioned.

PBS story on income inequality and behaviour: Money on the Mind

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

PBS film on the rich and entitlement and income inequality

Wow. The effect of money on behaviour, and why BMWs are less likely to stop for you at a crosswalk.

Textile design animation by Gavin Edwards, sound by Thomas Williams

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

film for Copenhagen Design Museum exhibition

The short film “Textile” was inspired by the exhibition Post War British Textiles at Copenhagen Design Museum. Gavin Edwards, the filmmaker, tells me that the idea was to bring the patterns to life with the aid of motion graphics in a dynamic and intriguing way. The excellent sound design is by Thomas Williams, www.thomaswilliams-sound.com.

Beautiful mix of image, animation and sound.