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Old as dirt. Twice as gritty.

It's boosterism, baby

 
You’ll have to excuse the wet spots all over this column, they are from the tears I’ve shed since learning the painful news today. Please keep calm while I break it to you: BC is no longer the ‘Best Place on Earth’. http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/b-c-government-quietly-drops-best-place-earth-193126298.html It has been stripped of its title and has been downgraded back to ‘Super Natural’.
 
Worse, this happened over a year ago, and on the quiet, too, which is embarrassing for me because I have been busy all year dumping those low-lifes I know from ‘other places’. Places that aren’t the Best Place On Earth. Now word is getting out to those people that we aren’t really the best, we’re only wanna-be best, in fact we’re really nothing more than a glorified ‘super natural’, like a food product that hopes you will like it for being natural since it tastes like dirt. Now those people are laughing at me. “Natural?” they sneer, “that’s quite a drop from Best Place in the Entire Freaking World, isn’t it? Did you bump your head during the fall?”  
 
Oh, the shame.
 
At least we’re still ‘Beautiful’, and we let tourists know it by broadcasting it on our license plates, just in case they don’t have eyes to look out the window and see for themselves. But I do miss living in the Best Place On Earth. Used to be when I drove by hillsides stripped of all trees and packed tight with cookie-cutter houses, I didn’t have to cringe because I knew that it had to be a Best Thing, because it was in the Best Place On Earth. When I saw the homeless shivering on street corners, I saluted them, happy in the knowledge that they are living in the Best Place On Earth. Although I also silently reprimanded them for not dressing better for it. People should be spiffy, here in the Best Place On Earth. Spiffy and kind of snotty, but in a friendly ‘ha ha you people suck’ sort of way. Yes, I was really enjoying the life of being better than anyone else anywhere, and to have it snatched away has been almost more than I can bear.
 
After all, what can you really do with Super Natural, except eat it, if it’s yogurt? And how do we explain the Super Naturalness of hillsides stripped of all trees and packed tight with cookie-cutter houses? That’s going to take some spin. I tried to keep the dream alive by being show-offy with a tourist, “Must suck to be you, not living in a Super Natural place like this, huh?” When they giggled, I hung my head and mourned for those heady days of supreme superiority, gone forever.
 
The question is, can we truly love this province without the support of boosterism? First we have to understand boosterism: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/boosterism
 
Boosterism is how you sucker residents into staying, and sucker non-residents into coming. Governments are heavy users of boosterism, especially civic officials. Here are some uses:
 
1. Make something not-so-great seem amazing, this is typically used for small towns, ie ‘Gumbunk, BC, pop 39, is the MOST AMAZING city in the ENTIRE WORLD’. 
 
A more honest approach for Gumbunk, BC, would be ‘Hole In Wall But Real Quiet Except When Ethel Goes Crazy During Full Moon’.
 
2. Overstate the obvious, ie ‘BC is the Best Place On Earth’.
 
BC is an amazing place. It is my favourite place. It might not be the best place on earth, but it’s pretty good. A better slogan, ‘BC: Not A Half-Bad Place To Be If You Overlook The Hillsides Stripped Of All Trees And Packed Tight With Cookie-Cutter Houses.
 
3. City nicknames. These are a form of boosterism, unless they occur naturally. Officials, or sometimes committees, provide nicknames for cities or areas that aren’t creative or interestig enough to have one evolve naturally. Vancouver morphed into ‘Lotusland’ eons ago, because the city is full of whackos of various flavours. New York City is the ‘Big Apple’, Chicago the ‘Windy City’. Seattle, on the other hand, had to name itself the ‘Emerald City’ because the citizens were too busy drinking beer and smoking stuff to really notice where they were and how they felt about it. Otherwise, it probably would have been more like ‘My God Traffic Sucks Here’ or ‘Place To Get Beer', which is far more real than artsy-fartsy ‘Emerald City’. In Kelowna, the powers-that-be wanted the city to be called ‘Orchard City’ or ‘Four Seasons Playground’ but the people themselves just call it ‘K-Town’, not out of love but because they’re basically too lazy to say the whole word. Thing is, you can’t choose a nickname, it has to occur naturally, otherwise it is boosterism. Imagine telling your mate, okay, here is a list of nicknames you can call me, choose one: ‘dear’, ‘honey’, ‘sweetie’, ‘cutie-pie’. In no time at all, the true nick would emerge: ‘ex’.
 
Nicknames, slogans: no diff, one just has more words, but both are driven by boosterism. Strangest boosterism-driven slogan ever is the one for Bellingham, Washington. I really like Bellingham, it is my most favourite little American town. And to keep it real, I’d nickname it ‘Place Where Canadians Take Up All The Parking Spots Which Pisses Off The Locals’ but no, it took a committee of idiots to create their official nick, which is ‘City of Subdued Excitement’. Yes. ‘City of Subdued Excitement’. I have searched up one street and down the other in Bellingham to find this ‘subdued excitement’. I have yet to find it, which is a relief. It always makes me laugh, though, and maybe that is the idea: “Come Laugh At Us In Bellingham, We Have The Stupidest Nickname Ever Created’.
 
In closing, I should point out that the BC Government has also changed the international slogan for BC. Once ‘Canada’s Pacific Gateway’ (let’s state the obvious) it is now ‘Canada Starts Here’. Canada starts here? No. Canada starts on the other side of the country, not here. It ends here, just like the sun. Best is last, and all that. By rights it should be: ‘BC: When you’re driving west and run out of flat provinces, you’re here. If you make a wrong turn, you’re headed for City Of Subdued Excitement, so settle down, stop being all ‘hurray’ and ‘yahoo’ . . . ‘subdued’ is key.’ Okay, it’s a little long, but it is real.


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About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

This column: The columns that will appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading the column, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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