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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

sled island adventure 2008 = great success!

As you can tell from the title of this post, last weekend's trip to Sled Island in Calgary surpassed all my expectations.

Not only was the weather amazing, but with acts ranging from Broken Social Scene, Drive-By Truckers, The Cops, The Dodos, Carolyn Mark, Wire, Still Flyin', Jose Gonzalez, The Secret Machines, the Gutter Twins, Jonathan Richman, Of Montreal, The Fellas, Mogwai, Heat Ray, The Ostrich, Fucked Up, Enablers, The Absent Sound, Spiral Stairs, Hot Little Rocket, Portastatic, and Katie Stelmans to name a few, Sled Island 2008 is in serious contention for one of the best music festivals I've been to!

Kudos to the organizers, volunteers, bands, artists, and sponsors for putting together this awesome festival. It will definitely be on my list of weeks not to miss in 2009!

And not content with complacency or afraid of controversy, Sled Island Festival Director Zak Pashak wasn't afraid of controversy as he used his message to festival goers to start some debate on the state of Calgary and Alberta's cultural scene (and also raised some interesting questions around the very subtle societal differences between being 'rich' and being 'wealthy'). The following are exerts from Pashak's letter in the festival guide:

Calgarians are searching. The city is gradually learning that pretending to be what you think another city is, is an empty path. Visit one of our various new $10-a-beer-resto-lounges to get a first hand experience of emptiness. I don’t think we really want pathetic interpretations of New York, what we want is that thing that New Yorkers have - we want real pride in where we live.

Calgarians want something vibrant, meaningful, and homegrown that holds up to anything in the world. Celebrating our creativity while hosting the best and most interesting music and visual art adds to civic pride. That is why Sled Island is successful.


Alberta could be so many things. We could be an unrivaled center of education. We could have free, high quality education for every citizen of this province. Money is there by the bucket load - but where is it going? How different would Calgary look if we focused on educating ourselves and attracting bright minds to our city? Would the epicenter of our greatest civic celebration still consist of drunk millionaires renting cocaine dusted barbie dolls at an outhouse smelling parking lot behind a downtown theme-bar? Is that really how we want to represent ourselves to the world? Is that at all real?

12 comments:

Aaron said...

Damn. Sounds fun, and I had free tickets, too. Seeing the Secret Machines again would have been good.

Derek said...

I'm glad you had a good time! I would have loved to have caught Of Montreal.

I did enjoy what Zak put in the pamphlet, too, until I got to this:

Would the epicenter of our greatest civic celebration still consist of drunk millionaires renting cocaine dusted barbie dolls at an outhouse smelling parking lot behind a downtown theme-bar?

Um... That's problematic on so many levels I don't think I need to point it out any further. I mean, really, could we at least not refer to women as Barbie dolls? Furthermore, women can't be "rented." It's really disappointing to know these harmful messages were distributed among what must have been thousands of people.

Aaron said...

Furthermore, women can't be "rented."

HBC, Derek. HBC.

Hookers.
Blow.
Casinos.

It's what drives Alberta's secondary and tertiary industries.

Peter said...

Derek - I take it you have never had the dubious pleasure of attending Stampede? Because Zak's comment about "drunk millionaires renting cocaine-dusted Barbie dolls" is an entirely valid description of at least one side of Stampede. Women dressed like Barbie dolls out to snag themselves a "cowboy" can quite accurately be described as "Barbie dolls" methinks. And "women can't be rented"? Uhm, hate to break it to you but the oil boom has created a booming escort/prostitution economy in this province, from the 49th parallel on up past Fort Mac.

Derek said...

Aaron,
If you're still referring to women as "hookers," I don't think I can engage in an argument with you on any meaningful level.

Peter,
The assertion that women are anything less than women is offensive and sexist. Not only that, but when women consent to sex, whether they're paid for it or not, they certainly don't become someone's temporary property.

Aaron said...

Derek - Ok, I'll refer to them as Ladies of the Evening, or or perhaps that's too gender specific. How about Sex Trade workers? Or how about Persons who accept payment for sexual use of their bodies?

Rent is an accurate definition - it's payment for the use of someone else's property. Look up the definition of the term.

Barbie Dolls is also an accurate term, or would you prefer arm candy or Ornamental Woman Friend? Believe it or not, but here in Calgary, and other parts of the world, women don't exist on the pedestal you imply they are on.

There actually are women who are impressed by the size of a man's bank account, truck tires and the length of his mullet, just as there are men who measure a woman's worth by the size and proportion of her body parts. If that's how they want to see themselves, I'm not one to judge.

Yes, we should refer to women as women (or womyn, for those who are easily offended by penile implications associated with the word 'men'), and men as men, but the world doesn't exist as we think it ought to. It exists as it is. Here in reality, men and women deal with a host of self-perception issues, and some see themselves as coke-snorting, bar-fighting newmoneyed rednecks who value women by the proportion of their body parts.

The message the Sled Island organizers were trying to get across is that this is the side of Stampede that's quite sad, and they want to provide a festival that thrives, even in the shadow of the behemoth that is the 'Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth'.

Derek said...

Whoa, hold on just a moment: Refusing to put up with sexism and challenging it is now synonymous with placing women on a pedestal? That sounds more like an anti-feminist argument than a logical thought to me.

I'm not going to make any further efforts to dispel your sexism. I don't have the patience, nor the time.

Back to my original point, though, before it was sidetracked, and that you addressed in your last paragraph; I did appreciate the message Zak was trying to get across. The sexism, however, was unnecessary.

Aaron said...

Refusing to put up with sexism and challenging it is now synonymous with placing women on a pedestal?

If you want to see the world through a sexism-filter, you're entitled to do that. If you stare hard enough, anything can be sexist.

You might find, however, that some other person out there might view their world through a chauvinist lens, and might see your move to fight sexism as a bit chauvinistic, in an older sense of the word.

Focusing on the word "Barbie Doll" misses the gross stereotype that forms the basis of Zak's argument. He stereotypes a rather seedy side of the Stampede, and implicitly assumes that rich millionaires are drunkards, and that they must resort to renting sexual services because nobody likes them, even for all their money and their coke. That sterotype is equally offensive, and to not address it is a latent form of misandry.

Derek said...

If you want to see the world through a sexism-filter, you're entitled to do that. If you stare hard enough, anything can be sexist.

In an oppressive, racist, heterosexist, patriarchal society, I don't disagree. There are a few things left untainted by sexism, I would argue, but probably not much, you're right.

I'm not sure if you're defending sexism and chauvinism in your second paragraph or not. In fact, I can't think of any reason why you wrote that.

That sterotype is equally offensive, and to not address it is a latent form of misandry.

Now here's something I've heard a million times before, and it's worth arguing against; first, because the statement posits me (someone who strives for gender equality) as a hypocrite, and second, because it's BS.

Is the stereotype offensive? Sure. Is it a case of misandry? Hardly. If anything, it's classist, but let's not split hairs. Moving beyond the assumption that the millionaires are men, though, it's important to take privilege into consideration.

You see, the fact of the matter is that men (and people who are middle-class/rich, white, able-bodied, heterosexual, etc.) hold a lot of privilege in our culture, and just because I'm a feminist and I focus on how damaging the patriarchy is to women, doesn't mean I absolutely have to do the same for men. For the record, I do believe the patriarchy harms men, too, but I'll be damned if I'm going to dedicate a portion of every argument I make about oppression to the privileged group, just because they're harmed a little bit, too.

In short, that argument is just another anti-feminist discourse to try to take the attention away from women and how they're significantly harmed by sexism. If you're willing to do some reading, I highly encourage it, but I wouldn't be surprised if you don't, considering the passive aggressive tone that has saturated this discussion.

If you are, though, this is a good start:
"Feminists are Sexist"

Peter said...

Air getting a little thin waaay up there on your moral high horse Derek? Gosh-a-golly, if only we could all be as gender-free, sexless and classless as you. I'm curious, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, how you would describe the situation Zak mentions? Are any adjectives allowed in your Brave New World?

Derek said...

Before I leave for the week...

Peter,
Personal attacks are not arguments. If you want to claim I'm being too idealistic, that's fair enough, but the example of sexism I pointed out is fairly easy to get rid of (simply by not including the harmful words in the pamphlet). If Zak had made some racist comment, I'm certain more people would have been up in arms about that. Instead, sexism is pervasive and widely accepted, as demonstrated by the discussion that's taken place here.

If pointing out and challenging sexism puts me on a high horse, then so be it. And whatever gave you the idea I was "gender-free, sexless, and classless?" False assumptions take away a lot of credibility from those who purport them.

Anonymous said...

Hi all,
The "renting barbie dolls" comment refers to a very specific bar (Cowboys) in which, if you pay the bar enough money, you can literally rent one of the waitresses to entertain you for the evening. Cowboys has a policy whereby, if you've worked there for a year, they'll pay for boob jobs.

Needless to say, it's a creepy, creepy bar.

Hope that clears the big discussion up, though.
-- jonathan