Sunday, October 27th, 2002
Kill The Moonlight, Save The Daylight
Or something like that. Such a busy day yesterday, good thing I got that extra hour to waste.
Cleaned the washroom! Nothing like the scent of ammonia to get the sinuses a-burning.
Douglas Coupland at the IFOA – What to say? Coupland was very charming, well-spoken and interesting. Jane Sibbery was a grade-A flake who had no clue what she was doing and did her best to ruin the entire event. Meandering stories that had nothing to do with anything and were invariably more about her than anything else, you could see Coupland was as confused and uncomfortable with this fruitbat as the audience was exasperated. Lady, we didn’t come here to hear you jabber on about nonsense. There was no chemistry or even communication between the two, it was painful at times. By the end the audience was yelling for Sibbery to shut up. Rude, but necessary.
But – best moment was Coupland was telling a story about the day of the shootings at Columbine. He said that when the students fled the cafeteria, they left their bags and whatnot behind. When emergency services reached the scene, the sprinklers had gone off and they couldn’t enter the caf in case there were more pipe bombs. While they were waiting, all the cellphones and pagers in the caf were ringing – all the different ringtones sounding off together. He said it sounded like birds.
Then he asked if everyone in the room at the reading with a cellphone would mind setting it to self-ring. The room lights were turned off as everyone obliged, leaving just the candles burning on the tables to illuminate the scene, and then the phones started ringing. A couple at first on one side of the room, then more on the other. Soon the room was filled with 360-degree cascading, shimmering, chiming, impossibly lovely music. What could have been cacaphony was more like a spontaneous, unrehearsed symphony. It did sound like birds. The idea that something as lovely as this could have occurred during a horrific event like Columbine was unbelievable – both saddening and uplifting at the same time.
Coincidentally enough, I went to see Bowling For Columbine last night. My first complete Michael Moore experience, save for Canadian Bacon. On thing I will say is the man has great zeal for his crusades. I’m politically predisposed to Moore’s POV, but am a little put-off by the one-sidedness and manipulativeness of some of his work. He’s willing to sacrifice factuality or at least gloss over details to achieve maximum heartstring tug. I get that he loves Canada but his overly-naive portrayal of our society was a little embaressing. If there is a Canuck parallel to the Ugly American stereotype, it’s the Smug Canadian, and I’m not thrilled to have such a thing encouraged.
I will give him full points for the K-Mart episode and for trying to address why it is that Americans kill each other with firearms so much more than any other society when there’s not that big a difference in the culture (movies, music, television, etc) that everyone across the world is exposed to. I do believe there is a fundamental component of fear and violence in the American psyche, sort of an original sin for a country forged and grown through violence. America got where it is now by the barrel of a gun – the question is, will that ultimately prove to be its undoing? The magic 8-ball says, ‘Unclear’.
Well this has a been a far more soapbox-y entry than usual.
Someday I would like to make a recording of the cellphone experiment. I may be hit or miss on Coupland’s work (though I am encouraged to pick up his new one, ‘All Families Are Psychotic’ as well as burn any Jane Sibbery albums I may come across), but I think I’ll always be grateful to him for allowing me to experience the cellphone philharmonic.
np – Low / Things We Lost In The Fire