A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Our Beloved CBC, Parrots, Llamas, Midgets & Spaghetti
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Warning! While I have often boasted that I never rant, what I have written below could be one. Read at your peril.

My uncle Tony had a technique with dealing with his nagging wife Sarita. “Yes dear, I will be there in a moment.” “Yes dear, I will do that today, without fail.” And then he would do as he pleased. The technique worked for 13 years. They were divorced when my uncle found an even more patient woman.

In 1975 when I arrived with my wife and two daughters to Vancouver I heard about a beautiful building that had been torn down. It was a department store called Eaton’s. I had no memory of it so the stories did not affect me. I felt differently in 1989 when the Georgia Medical Dental Building was demolished even after protracted protest. The building was beautiful. Now we only have the Marine Building to boast about in that area of our city.

I see the Uncle Tony technique alive and well in Vancouver and in Canada. We sign petitions. We assert we do not want the Olympics. The results are always the same things are done in spite of protests and petitions.

As I walked today on Granville on my way to buy photo supplies at Leo’s Camera I had to brave noise, mud, fences and detour signs. Not only does it seem that all the protests and petitions against the Cambie construction of the Canada Line were useless but now I can see how Granville has been Cambied (I claim here and now the coining of the verb!).

And so in the last week I have received many e-mails from friends and from people I don’t know to sign an E-protest to attempt to save the CBC from the budget cuts. By the easy and effortless technique of pressing the send button I can feel I am doing my best to save the CBC from itself.

Except for the use of drones and a few rockets here and there the use of the button has yet to take over completely in our human expertise at warfare. We still find it necessary to kill people by using weapons that send metal slugs through people. We press triggers and not buttons. But we are content to protest with buttons from the comfort of our homes. I am not promoting here anything violent at all in contrasting bullets with buttons. Whatever happened to calling our MP and demanding they act on our behalf? What if we shower our Vancouver Sun with protest letters? What if we find some way to convince Carole Taylor that it would no longer be conflict of any interest and that she could be our spokeswoman in a crusade to save and improve the CBC? Unfortunately we no longer have Daryl Duke to write intelligent essays on why the CBC is important to our lives.

With that e-mail command to send I am supposed to sleep nights in my knowledge that I have done all that is possible to save our beloved CBC. I use the word beloved with all honesty but I have been told that this feeling is of one in a minority.

Our aboriginals have repeatedly asked for land and monetary compensation. The Uncle Tony Technique has been clearly used here. “Next year.” “Have patience. It will happen.” Years and years have passed with little being done for the plight of aboriginals. The Uncle Tony Technique relies on the proven fact that, at least here in Canada and in Vancouver, all protests peter out sooner or later. Just weather the storm is the corollary to the technique.

Every time I drive to Lillooet to visit my daughter and pass by the beautiful Lillooet train station I think of CN, BC Rail and the whole imbroglio of the legislature raids and the present BC government that is simply weathering the storm. This has worked every time, hasn’t it?

We can blog, and write letters to the editor about how we want to keep our CBC just the way it is. We can protest that CBC Radio is about the only media entity that keeps our province and other provinces together. I am sure it is important in keeping our country together.

Consider that Mark Forsythe’s noon to 2 program, BC Almanac. It is one of only two other radio programs (North by Nortwest and Hot Air) that has listeners across our province. From one of the old photographs here you can note that in the late 70s the program was only an hour and a half long. BC Almanac is now to be cut to only one hour. This could be the decision of some executive who works in what we have called (most accurately as it is indeed its name) The Corporation. All along many have complained that the problem with the Corporation is the personnel at the top - the corporate heads. Could it be a coincidence that both the CBC and the venerable American GMC both have products nobody wants? I don't quite think so. While I no longer dream of buying a Plymouth Fury I know that without my CBC Radio my radios would only then be obsolete.

We can protest that we want to keep and enjoy commercial free radio. We can cite all the advantages. We can protest that we want a fairly unbiased reporting that is not beholden to advertisers. But we will protest in vain. A friend pointed out to me that we are living in a post-radio-talk-host era. There are no Websters, Bannermans or Mairs to fan the flames of our recalcitrant almost flame-proof consciences.

In the end those of us who try to defend the CBC are accused of being elitists or snobs. We have to be elitists and snobs because some of us like the obsolete music of other centuries. We are deemed to be elitist because we want announcers with pleasant voices that have no lisps and or speech impediments.

Cut a piece of tin from a tin can and bend it back and forth. It will be surprisingly resilient. But after a few too many foldings the tin will separate in two. That is what is being done to our CBC in small increments. When it finally breaks nobody will care or have a memory of what it was. It will be our Georgia Medical Dental Building of our forgotten past. We will not miss what was so diluted so that by the time it ceases being what it was supposed to be we will have no memory. We will have no memory of what it was.

As for me I will not send any e-mail to Harper. As my friend Robert Blake erroneously used to say to me all the time, “You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.” I don’t believe this ticket has a chance in ---- of winning anything.

The pictures you see here I took one very rainy day in the late 70s. It was the day of the PNE parade. I remember that the CBC float was the good ship Mirthful. From the parade I went to the PNE and took some pictures of the CBC in action with llamas, parrots and spaghetti. It was all in good fun.

If you believe that sending an e-mail to Harper is going to help click here.

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