Friday, June 15, 2007

Monday Night at The Royal

Well, as you know, Monday night at the Royal is the night Guy Lapointe, Audio Engineer screens conspiracy movies exposing the NEW WORLD ORDER. Used to be, the conspiracy movies were screened in the basement of the David Thompson Centre. This was great, you entered this stygian cavern with LSD inspired art on the walls and a few hard backed uncomfortable chairs scattered about some rickety tables and the movies were screened right onto the wall. The place was dark and gloomy and everyone smoked loads of dope, so it didn't matter that you didn't have any yourself. Admission was by donation – suggested amount $5 – but if you'd blown your last dollar on weed, Guy would let you in anyway. But, the David Thompson Cultural Centre ended up in a big, black financial hole, and the building has since become some bland cookie cutter hotel. So, now, the conspiracy movies are at the Royal, the absolute worst hotel in Nelson, and the one that the tourists walk past clutching their bags and wallets peering anxiously inside in case the freaky people within will suddenly go crazy and try their hand at a bit of bag snatching.

This week was a double header – “double the conspiracy, double the fun,” the advertisement read. The usual crowd was there – past and present winners of Nelson's freak of the week competition in sandals, and hand knitted sweaters imported from South American countries and sold at fair trade rates. Instead of rickety seats, you can now sit on old leather church pews. These are great, you can slouch back with your head draped way over the back and you feel like you are riding the rails on one of the great railways of the world. The only problem with the Royal is that no-one smokes anymore. The only drugs available are the legal alcoholic kind.

The first movie was the last installment of a three part series by BBC film maker Adam Curtis, called “The Trap: We Will Force You To Be Free.” The three part Trap series is so mainstream, it actually has an entry in Wikipedia. In episode number three, Curtis explains some of the major world “revolutions” - the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, the rise of Pol Pot in Cambodia, the current war in Iraq - in terms of Isaiah Berlin's theories of positive and negative liberty. Isaiah Berlin was a political philosopher originally from Latvia and the first Jew to get a fellowship at All Souls College in Oxford. Berlin thought negative and positive liberty were pretty much mutually exclusive, but positive liberty was the most dangerous as, inevitably, followers of positive liberty would come to believe that their definition of freedom was the only tenable one and must be forced onto the population ineluctably resulting in repression, oppression and loss of liberty. However, in the west, we are all about negative liberty – which supposedly means that we are all free to do whatever we want without coercion or any over-arching authority – but all this negative liberty has left us in a world without meaning.

I don't think The Trap got much traction with the Nelson audience. We all know that the war in Iraq is all about the US controlling oil supplies – right now the US is trying to broker some deal with the Iraqi government so that big US oil companies can come in and “develop” the oil fields. In exchange for doing all the work, the US companies will get to take all their profits out of the country tax free – sounds like a good deal to me.

But, anyway, The Trap was a pretty good segue into Big Bucks: Big Pharma narrated by Amy Goodman, the host of the daily radio and TV program “Democracy Now”, that's all about exposing all kinds of conspiracies in the US government. Amy Goodman makes appearances all over the US but I'm pretty sure she must take the Greyhound bus, because her name has to be on the US no fly list by now. Big Bucks: Big Pharma was great. It was all about how the drug companies are manufacturing illnesses – premenstrual dysthymic disorder (a bad case of PMS), social affective disorder (shyness), and restless leg syndrome (or I sat at a desk too long today) – and then selling us a whole bunch of drugs to “cure” our illnesses. This got a lot of traction with the Nelson crowd, who know that the best medicine is a handful of the Kootenay's finest export.

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