by G.D. Maxwell
In a year when I gave serious thought to packing my bags and leaving my happy mountain home for someplace less expensive, less exploitative, less amped and more, well, if not more normal then at least nearer the far suburbs of wherever that mythical place is, it took a lot of reflection to pull me back to the brink of the abyss. But here I am. Youre not going to get rid of me that easily. Summers in the Cariboo ought to salve my savaged winter soul enough to keep doing this another year... or ten.
But thinking long and hard about leaving led me to dwell on what Id really miss. So if this years installment of the famed and inflamed Maxie Awards seems kinder and gentler, please understand.
Mountain Kulture Division Awards
Best On-Mountain Innovation: Whistler-Blackcombs faux opening of the 2001-02 ski season. Proving what strippers have know since the dawn of time that it aint necessarily the nekkid bod, its the anticipation of seeing the naughty bits that keeps em coming back the brain trust of W-B was kind enough to show us the slow peel, despite having near record snow. By opening a couple of lifts, cooking in a few restaurants, grooming shall we say selectively and generally making us slaver on the edge of the catwalk, our appreciation of what a great place this is and excitement at finally getting to enjoy the good parts doubtless grew to a frenzied pitch. Funny though, seems all their T-shirt shops opened right on time.
Practice Makes Perfect: Almost unnoticed in the summers news was W-Bs finetuning the timing of their hiring. Instead of making the young and anxious trek to Whistler well before the season to apply for jobs, then wait in despair to start working, the whole seasonal hiring thing has been pushed closer to the mountains opening. Happier employees and a less depleted food bank, a win-win improvement.
Art in Public Places: After years of a successful policy of benign neglect and a mañana attitude worthy of a banana republic, the reborn Creekside was officially given the Bird. The installation of two works of sculpture may be seen as a symbolic coming of age for Whistlers oldest base. Im not sure I like them, but I sure like the idea of having them there. Arts good for the soul. Now something capturing the spirit of the place would be perfect.
Its the People, Stupid: To John Zaritsky and the boys and girls who blurred the line between work and play to make Ski Bums . If the film gets wide distribution well be up to our elbows in wannabes next season. The Maxie for cinematography to Christian Begin who somehow captured both the grandeur and magic of mountains on film. Either that or I was having some incredible flashbacks. Please donate a copy of the video to the library so I can hear the dialogue that got absorbed at the conference centre during the premiere.
I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride My Bike: Only in Whistler! The Maxie for the years most contentious issue doesnt go to affordable housing, doesnt go to governmental ineptitude, doesnt go to price gouging and doesnt go to ostentatious steroidal homes. The longest letters to the editor, the most vitriol and the most inflamed of passions was brought about by the loss of a World Cup mountain bike race. Firebombs even. God, youve gotta love this place.
Government In Action (Inaction) Division Awards
If It Aint Broke, Dont Fix It and Other Really Dumb Statements Wed Like to Never Hear Again: Dumb statements have a facile attractiveness. This years dumb statement is the rationalization, oft-repeated in council chambers, for Whistlers growing stable of ostentatious steroidal homes. To wit: They provide lots of tax revenue but dont place many burdens on community infrastructure because theyre not lived in much of the year. The logical conclusion one might draw is that some of our current leaders would prefer a town of large, dark, empty homes. Wait a minute. Kinda sounds like Nick North, doesnt it?
Sauce for the Goose: To the pinheads from the top down running our healthcare system. You lay a nice settlement on the nurses after they threaten to walk off the job and keep going until they cross the border, then turn around and stiff our local Nightingales because theyre not part of the union? Rusty needles and ice cold enemas for all of you.
Solidarity Forever, Dude: To our local Nightingales. If you want the sauce, join the union, pay your dues, hit the picket lines and stop being freeriders. Its all the pinheads seem to understand. The union keeps us strong.
Whos on First: Do we have all the affordable housing we need or do we need more? Well let you know as soon as the powers at Fortress RMOW and the Housing Authority all of whom live in pretty nice digs, by the way work out their differences of opinion. Dont be so touchy guys, we only report the news.
Your Concerns Are My Concerns...Really: To all the True Believers who think what this town really needs is 600 busses a day, enough armed troops to invade Afghanistan, more chainlink fencing than a prison, corporate arm twisting on a world class scale, shady backroom deals, self-important hangers-on, a bid whose obscene budget is already spiraling out of control and now a winter Olympics named for a town where it doesnt even snow! Earth to Olympic guys.
Odds n Ends Division Awards
Best New Eateries: Colin Pitt-Taylors Riverside Junction Cafe at Riverside campground, a whole new twist on camping food.
Lets Get Bombed: "I love the smell of avalanche bombs in the morning." Kudos and undying thanks to Whistler Patrol for the Class 4 slide last week in West Bowl. What an awesome sight. What a scary instability. Better your bombs than my skis.
Its My Party and Ill Doze If I Want To: To those who dared, to those who shared, to my Perfect Partner who sneakily brought it all off and to my little sister who trekked out from the Land of Enchantment to embarrass me and then decided not to, thank you all for celebrating my, gulp, 50 th . No, I still dont know what I want to be when I grow up.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Unspoken Word: A New Years Resolution to all of you who stop me on the street or at work or in the bar and begin our conversation with the words, "I oughta write a letter to the editor about this...." DO IT! Bob loves letters. Hell even edit them to make you sound like you remembered your medication. And all the folks who run the mountain, the town, the stores, your landlords, they all love to read about their exploits in the paper. Honest.