Olympic closing ceremony gets surreal

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      It was only natural that tonight’s Olympic closing ceremonies would feel like a strange, flaring, echoing dream. The walk to B.C. place for the 5:30 p.m. start was only a couple of hundred yards from Canada Hockey Place, where I’d just seen Sidney Crosby score one of the biggest goals in Canadian hockey history—a surreal moment in its own right, through and through.

      And then here I was, a few rows from where I’d sat 16 days ago for the opening ceremonies. Here, again, were several thousand people wearing light-blue-paper ponchos, just as they did at the start of this whole thing.

      My ability to reason took a long series of hits. First, a massive herd of perky people in white sang the word Vancouver over and over for about 20 minutes. Off to my left, as the athletes entered the stadium in loose groups, Premier Gordon Campbell leaned out from the otherwise sedate dignitaries’ box and waved a large Canadian flag back and forth with an energy that seemed unhinged.

      Then, after speeches and medals and a series of anthems (Canadian, Norwegian, Greek, Olympic, Russian) that had us standing up and sitting down more often than in church, there were people in fairy lights running around inside giant hamster balls, and a soprano riding a massive illuminated gyroscope.

      Neil Young came out of the floor, and moments later William Shatner and Catherine O’Hara were telling weirdly off-colour jokes.

      And then the Can-con dam burst: Michael J. Fox, giant inflatable moose, freaking Nickelback and then Avril and then Alanis and then Simple Plan and Hedley. Jesus, was Parachute Club next?

      But it was all somehow totally appropriate: it was Canadian, it was exhausting, it was exhaustingly Canadian. Just like the Games themselves.

      In a speech earlier tonight, Vanoc CEO John Furlong assured us that we’d all been changed forever by the Olympic experience. But now, among the ponchos and foam moose antlers and paper snow that litter this near-empty stadium, it’s hard to know what’s coming tomorrow morning.


      Photo gallery: Vancouver 2010 Olympics closing ceremony.

      Comments

      31 Comments

      Brett

      Feb 28, 2010 at 9:07pm

      So I guess you would have done it differently? Sounds like your tickets were wasted on someone who feels they're too cool to just enjoy it. Give your negativity a rest....we get it.

      Beth

      Feb 28, 2010 at 9:29pm

      That was great. Yep. Time for the Academy Awards countdown! Seven more sleeps!
      Beth

      doug williams

      Feb 28, 2010 at 9:42pm

      beavers, RCMP, moose, Avril, Michael, canoes...did they leave out any Canadian cliche?
      Did anyone see anything original, witty, or not excruciatingly boring? Oh. I did like Neil.

      georgia straight fan

      Feb 28, 2010 at 10:25pm

      Great job reporting the events.. i have enjoyed every witty, sometimes sarcastic word..
      you are right.. it IS hard to know what tomorrow morning will bring..

      0 0Rating: 0

      Howard

      Feb 28, 2010 at 11:46pm

      "it was Canadian, it was exhausting, it was exhaustingly..."

      Boring, trite, badly written and Long May You Run was written about a car. Shame on you Neil, you just sang for Coke.

      Brian Lynch

      Mar 1, 2010 at 12:53am

      Brett, sorry if you misunderstood my comments about the closing ceremonies. I was mainly trying to get across how weird it was to be at this kind of show so soon after the brilliant and emotionally draining gold-medal hockey game. If you look back through my posts from the Games (and don't feel obliged to), you'll see that I had an amazing time. The Olympics come attached to all sorts of complicated politics, and I have serious reservations about some of them. But as a sports fan, I feel lucky to have had the chance to see truly great moments. And maybe the greatest of all happened earlier today, in overtime.

      Juan1

      Mar 1, 2010 at 12:54am

      I could not believe Catherine O'Hara... I honestly felt embarrassed to be Canadian during her rant, hoping the power would go out or a giant cane would pull her off the stage. Telling the athletes that we have a mess to clean up? That they left their mark by pissing on our snow? That they have raging hormones? etc... That was incredibly disrespectful!!! That was then followed-up by a mockery of the RCMP, I could not watch any more. Distasteful and simply embarrassing.

      someonewithasenseofhumour

      Mar 1, 2010 at 1:18am

      i guess some people didn't realize that the majority of the entertainment for the ceremonies was a great example of Canadian humour, steeped in irony for a nation who tries to show that stereotypes are just that, stereotypes. I'd say it's quite funny to poke fun at how the world sees Canada at the absolute perfect time to de-bunk the misconceptions. We thankfully do have the good sense to make fun of ourselves, something that's lacking in most of the world. it was something I noticed in the athletes as well, such as Scott Moir telling his ice dance partner Tessa Virtue that "we got second....just kidding" after winning gold, or slider Jon Montgomery's "pitcher"-perfect walk through Whistler. biggest joke of the night in my opinion was unintentional, by putting hedley, simple plan, nickelback on stage, but hey, MTV won't really play Good Canadian Music and it would be impolite to play tunes Americans really didn't know. NBC's cutting to the Marriage Ref did save American audiences from some poor commercialized Canadian music (and part of the VANOC chairman's speech), which showed a self-interest thankfully not exhibited by their athletes. I know that in 2002 the CBC didn't cut away from Donny and Marie Osmond.....just sayin'.....stay classy NBC

      Scott G

      Mar 1, 2010 at 2:00am

      The concert portion kicked off by Nickelback wasn't very good. Sure I can understand having Nickelback as much as many of us hate them now. They have the international appeal along with Avril and Alanis... but Hedley? What the hell?

      And what was with some of the song choices? Simple plan singing about love being a lie? Avril singing about not getting a happy ending? Way to be uplifting to close out the games.

      A list of acts that would've been a more powerful and fun Canadian lineup:

      1. The Tragically Hip- Canada's band. Hearing 'Courage' or just about anything from them would've been fitting

      2. K'naan- Waving Flag... a perfect song considering all the flags in the building

      3. Great Big Sea- Perfect maritimes party music to dance to

      4. Spirit of the West- End everything with 'Home for a Rest'

      Char

      Mar 1, 2010 at 4:03am

      I wonder if anyone caught the irony in Catherine O'Hara's comment about a Swiss Army knife not having the ability to clean up a mess? yep the IOC get to go back to Switzerland and stick their cut from these games in non-taxable Swiss banks, while us taxpayers get the mess of debt they leave behind