Comic Chris Dangerfield, the serious heroin problem and a new wonder drug

Chris Dangerfield at home in his bath yesterday, thinking of getting clean

Chris at home in his bath yesterday, thinking of getting clean

It is no secret that comedian Chris Dangerfield has a heroin problem. He has talked about it on stage. When I met him yesterday, he was sweating a lot and he had  just broken up with his girlfriend.

“You can say in your blog that I’ve just come out a relationship,” he told me. “Just mention that I didn’t leave her because I didn’t love her. I left her because I’m not well.”

“If you get clean, though,” I said, “then maybe…”

“I’m not going to get well and get back with her,” he insisted. “That’s a step backwards. It doesn’t work like that, because I’m a different person when I’m not using.”

“But you told me you’re going to try a new way to get clean,” I said.

Ibogaine,” said Chris. “It comes from a West African root called the taberthnathe iboga and it’s full of psychoactive alkaloids but they’ve isolated one which is called ibogaine. It will never get used medically because it’s a one-shot medication, so there’s no money to be made from it. If you give a junkie methadone every day for ten years, someone’s making a fortune.”

“But with ibogaine?” I asked.

“Ibogaine,” said Chris, “makes your withdrawal last an hour instead of two or three weeks. Most junkies won’t get clean cos of fear of the detox: it’s so unbearable.

Chris Dangerfield photographed in Thailand last month

Chris trying to get clean in Thailand in April

“When I done that withdrawal in Thailand when we talked for your blog back in April, I still couldn’t walk after four weeks. I didn’t sleep for nine days – and I only knew that because I kept a calendar because I was going out of my mind. With ibogaine, the withdrawal lasts an hour.”

“With just one jab?” I asked.

“It’s not even a jab. It’s like a pellet… Ibogaine has been around for a few years now, but there’s been a resurgence of interest in it recently. There have been a couple of fatalities but, because it’s been done in people’s bedrooms and things by hippies…”

“So someone might have a weak heart,” I suggested, “and…”

“Yeah,” said Chris. “When you do it in treatment centres, you’ve got to have a full body check like heart, blood pressure, CT scan. They give you a test dose to make sure you’re not allergic and then, if that’s OK, they give you four more and then you vomit and there’s a lot of nausea – about 60% of people vomit for an hour or two. They tend to top you up with a bit more if you do that.

“And then you go on a very introverted trip for I think it’s about ten or twenty hours. They put an eye mask on you and you stay wired up to a machine to measure your heart and blood pressure and all that.”

“A trip?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said Chris, “like a DMT kind of ayahuasca sort of LSD kinda trip.”

“So you hallucinate?” I asked.

Chris taking the chaise longue view yesterday

Chris taking the chaise longue view yesterday

“Yeah. But you hallucinate your past. You confront your past as a third person and what they’re saying is it re-sets your addiction. You get to see all the things that led up to the reason you’re happy to jab heroin in yourself all day long. So not only does it get rid of the withdrawals – I mean, three weeks down to an hour is incredible – but it also has an effect on your addiction.

“You come out of it 24 hours later a bit physically weak because you’ve been lying on a bed not eating and apparently you can’t drink much on it… but the desire to use any drugs has gone in about 80% of cases.”

“But,” I asked, “isn’t a lot of the desire to use drugs psychological? This sounds very physical.”

“But they’re saying on top of that,” Chris told me, “it removes the psychological desire to use drugs. Addiction’s a weird one. It’s like it’s been turned into a disease, which I don’t go with.

“With someone like me who has been using since they were a teenager (Chris is 42), there’s a certain amount of hard wiring. They’re saying ibogaine re-sets all of that. So you don’t get a bit of fear in your life and think Oh shit, man, I want some Valium! or Oh, I’ve had enough of this! I want to get on the heroin! Instead, you actually deal with the fear and pain in different ways because of what ibogaine has done with your brain.”

“They are surely,” I said, “going to charge a fortune if it’s a one-off treatment.”

“If I wanted to do it alone,” said Chris, “I could get it on the internet for about £20. But I will do it in a medical clinic. There’s one out in Thailand.”

“Not in London?” I asked.

“They are doing it in Britain,” said Chris. “But, if I go to Thailand, I can get clean and have a holiday.”

“I still feel,” I said, “that I’m going to go to Thailand to get off heroin is a flawed concept.”

“Well,” said Chris, “it has worked several times. It just doesn’t last because I have to come back here. I’ve got clean in Thailand countless times.”

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Filed under Drugs, Psychology, Thailand

Ex gangster drug runner Jason Cook tells me how a rat became an astronaut

Jason Cook - from crime and cocaine to children’s books and cheese

Jason – from crime and cocaine to rats and cheese

I have blogged about Jason Cook a few times before.

He became a drug addict at the age of twelve and then started to sell drugs from his bedroom and on the streets to pay off his growing drugs debts to local dealers. Then he got into trouble with Yardies and was forced to smuggle drugs in order to save his friends and family “from danger”.

At the age of 20 he was heavily involved in the drugs world and he was also taking steroids to build himself up. He reached 18 stone, with a sizeable drug habit, was arrested and spent 3 years and 9 months in Pentonville Prison where he found drugs use was also widespread.

After a second prison sentence, he realised that he needed to turn his life round for his family and – despite being dyslexic – started to write a series of four semi-autobiographical books

Jason Cook’s first two semi-autobiographical crime books

Jason Cook’s first two semi-autobiographical crime books

Jason has five children. This month he published his first Kindle children’s book Rats in Space.

For each downloaded eBook or Kindle copy sold, 50p is going to be donated to the Macmillan Cancer fund. At the start of the book, it says:

Jason Cook’s book - Rats In Space

Jason Cook’s kids’ book - Rats In Space

The author, Jason Cook, would like to dedicate this book to his son, Hughie Cook, for truly being a brave boy during his chemotherapy treatment. Jason would also like to dedicate it to the other children and adults who are fighting this disease every day. Also to the doctors and nurses that help so many of the sick adults and children and thank them for the support they show the families. So thank you, all who helped support not only Hughie, but me and the others in our family at these tough times.

Rats in Space “tells the sad, very emotional yet ultimately happy story of the rats who live in the tunnels of the Underground at King’s Cross station…

“Can a rat really reach the moon? When a global cheese shortage threatens the entire rodent community, a brave group of rats come to one decision: if there is no cheese to be found on the Earth, then it’s time to look off the Earth. Hector Duddlewell has always dreamed of the stars and, when he catches a glimpse of glorious space travel, he’s willing to defy all odds to win the girl of his dreams and take his place as one of the first ever RATS IN SPACE.”

“It’s true,” Jason told me this morning. “Hector really did go into space.”

“Of course he did,” I said sympathetically.

Jason has plans to film Rats In Space

Jason has plans to film Rats In Space – the script is written

“He did,” said Jason. “Hector really did. He was flown into space.”

He showed me the Wikipedia entry. It read:

“France flew their first rat (Hector) into space on February 22, 1961.”

“My book tells the back story of Hector,” explained Jason. “How he actually became an astronaut.”

Stranger things have happened.

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Filed under Books, Children, Crime, Drugs, Writing

Hyphenate comedian Steve Best hopes to get laughs out of the Kosovo War

A selfie taken by Steve Best for the book

Steve Best – a comedy hyphenate with other strings to his bow

“You are a hyphenate,” I told comedian Steve Best in the Soho Theatre Bar.

“What?” he asked.

“In Hollywood,” I said some people are called hyphenates – writer-directors or actor-producer-directors. You are now a hyphenate. A writer-comedian-photographer podcaster.

In yesterdays’s blog, Martin Soan mentioned that Steve Best had performed with him and Boothby Graffoe in a freeform existentialist theatre piece in Germany.

On sale from this week

A second Comedy Snapshot book is in the pipeline…

Readers of this blog in March this year might remember Steve published Comedy Snapshot, his book comprising 440 photographs of UK comedians.

He is currently working on a second book of photographs and, he told me, is talking to a potential sponsor for the book tomorrow.

He is also involved in Abnormally Funny People, the highy-regarded group of comics with, as our American cousins might say, physical challenges. Abnormally Funny People have just launched a third podcast in their monthly series.

“Barclays Bank are sponsoring the podcast,” Steve told me, “but they’ve given us complete editorial control.”

“What’s in it for them?” I asked.

“To attract disabled customers,” replied Steve. “I think they’re trying to reach out and be accessible. They did that ad with (blind comic) Chris McCausland about talking ATM machines.” (It is currently on YouTube.)

“So Barclays approached you?” I asked.

“Well,” said Steve, “we always wanted to do a podcast, but we probably wouldn’t have done it without them. If you like the idea of something and someone gives you the money to do it, you do it.

“It’s something slightly different and we’d tried so many other avenues – TV scripts that nearly made it. We had Jimmy Mulville script editing at Hat Trick and it got to Channel 4, but that was the time BBC2 had Life’s Too Short and we didn’t get any further in the end.”

Life’s Too Short - maybe one worthy series a a time?

Life’s Too Short – Was it the big problem?

Life’s Too Short was TV’s token disabled show?” I asked.

“You kinda felt that it was,” said Steve, “but you can’t know for sure.”

“Yours was a sketch show?” I asked.

“No,” explained Steve. “It was Abnormally Funny People on tour as a sitcom. It wasn’t gratuitous disability; it just happened to be there and it was funny.”

“Why do Abnormally Funny People need a token non-disabled person like you?” I asked.

“Well,” said Steve, “Simon Minty and I knew each other from school. He has run consultancy firms and it was his original contact with someone who worked for Sky – Kay Allen – that financed our whole first Edinburgh Fringe run. They paid for the accommodation, venue, publicity, everything.

“Kay Allen now runs RUS – Really Useful Stuff – which is the company that provides us with the products we review in the new podcast.”

“Products such as?” I asked.

A self-stirring mug in action

An admirably self-stirring mug in action – I want one now!

“There’s a self-stirring mug,” said Steve. “If you have rheumatism or you can’t stir for some other reason, it stirs itself. Then there was the shoelace that was elasticated and worked like Velcro so, once you got the shoes on, you didn’t have to tie up the laces.

“Anything in the pipeline,” I asked, “other that the next photo book?”

“I’ve finished some fiction I want to get out,” Steve told me.

“A novel?”

“Yeah.”

“About comedy?”

“Sort of. It’s a love story, but to do with comedy and Yugoslavia – Kosovo – in 1999.”

The Kosovo War took place 1998-1999.

“Why that subject?” I asked.

“My wife is from Bosnia. She came over just before the Bosnian War (1992-1995) started. She is a lecturer in Linguistics at UCL, got a PhD in Linguistics. She studied at MIT with Chomsky.”

Steve has been married for 18 years.

“Your wife is a Kosovan or a Bosnian?” I asked.

“She would say she’s Serbian. She was born in Bosnia. Her mum was a Bosnian Croat and her dad’s Montenegran.”

“The Serbs were the baddies,” I said.

“They were put across as the baddies,” said Steve. “Sthe Bosnian War started in Croatia, when they chucked out the Serbs.”

“And the Croatians rather liked the wartime Nazis,” I said.

“I learned so much about it,” said Steve.

“Not many laughs in the subject,” I suggested.

Steve Best talked to me at Soho Theatre Bar

Steve Best aims to add another hyphen to his jobs – novelist

“It is a very funny book. Hopefully,” said Steve. “It is to do with an English comedian meeting a Yugoslav woman. So it’s semi-autobiographical.”

“Have you been out there?” I asked.

“Loads of times,” said Steve. “Been to Bosnia five times, Sarajevo, Mostar, all those places. But I’ve also worked out there with the forces – in CSE shows. I did a lot of research, but I’ve kept the politics very much away from the book. It is a funny book.”

Well, it is a funny world.

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Filed under Comedy, Disability, war, Writing, Yugoslavia

The dead ITV variety show, the revived Greatest Show on Legs and grave laughs

The Greatest Show on Legs in the Fringe Programme

Greatest Show on Legs’ balloon dance – original and still best (from left to right: Malcolm Hardee, ‘Sir Ralph’, Martin Soan)

Last night, ITV tried and failed to revive legendary, classic and once classy variety show Sunday Night at The London Palladium under the inexplicably shortened title Sunday Night at The Palladium.

If Simon Cowell had produced it, the show could have retained some class. Instead, ITV transformed class into crass and the result was somewhere between a reality show produced by Endemol on an off night and Saturday Night at Butlins for Essex Man.

Stephen Mulhern presented it like an edition of Big Brother’s Bit On The Side and it came complete with what looked very much like an audience plant towards the start of the show.

To compound the felony of failing to revive an old classic rather than thinking up a new idea – and rather than have highly original variety acts – they went for Cirque du Soleil performers Les Beaux Freres who nicked the idea of the Greatest Show On Legs’ classic 1982 Naked Balloon Dance and replaced the balloons with towels.

They performed perfectly serviceably and at least, unlike many acts, they changed the music and the objects. But original it most certainly was not.

Sunday Night at The London Palladium used to go out live. It did not last night. It went out dead.

By coincidence last night, the latest incarnation of the Greatest Show On Legs were performing live in Leipzig for a second consecutive night.

The Feinkost venue in Leipzig before the show

The Feinkost venue in Leipzig before the Saturday night show

On Saturday, the new Legs line-up (Martin Soan, Matt Roper and Adam Taffler) had performed together for the first ever time at the Pull The Other One show at Feinkost in Leipzig.

“It’s this big old East German canning factory,” Adam told me via Skype this morning, “which is now a communal arts hub.”

“It’s a huge Hof,” added Martin, “covered in glass. It was probably where all the lorries loaded up the cans and I managed to get a set up, but our stage curtains got totally soaked.”

“How?” I asked.

“We made a mess in the crowd games.”

“Crowd games?” I asked.

“There were two sections to the show. There was Vivienne (Martin’s wife) doing her laughter yoga to warm them up. And then we played some games – egg tossing and stuff like that.”

“Without,” I asked in some shock, “supervision by the increasingly prestigious World Egg Throwing Federation?”

“Yes,” said Martin. “Then we got on with the main Pull The Other One comedy show. But we had made a mess in the crowd games and the Germans, with their efficiency, immediately sloshed disinfectant all over the floor and started scrubbing the concrete. Our curtains got wet at the bottom.”

“Steve Rawlings,” I said, “remembers being told about you and Boothby Graffoe being in Germany years ago. You were running around naked in the audience spraying them with a fire extinguisher and Boothby told Steve it was around this point he thought: They’re just not ready for us yet.

Martin Soan on Saturday – This time the Germans were ready

Martin on Saturday – The Germans were ready

“That was a number of years ago,” remembered Martin. “We did a freeform existentialist theatre piece. The climax of it was me climbing up the central marquee pole bullock naked with a John Major mask on – so that time dates it a bit. Boothby and I did two shows at that festival. The first one was absolutely brilliant. We did a tribute to Christo who wrapped the Reichstag in polypropylene.

“There must have been a thousand people at that first show and they adored Boothby and me.

“Then we were booked to do a second show in a marquee very late at night. There were 800 people when we started and 4 people when we finished. We scared them all off. But the four people who stayed came up afterwards and said: That was just the best piece of existentialist theatre we’ve ever seen.”

“Define existentialist,” I said.

“I dunno,” said Martin. “I didn’t understand it, really. But, once we saw them leaving in groups of twenties and thirties, me and Boothby started really, really experimenting. It was great, great fun. Steve Best was there too and he performed with Boothby while I improvised with props and my body.”

“Improvised with your body?” I asked, suspiciously.

“Yeah. Doing a bit of modern dance around people, dressed-up as John Major. Posing every now and again. I hid from the audience in various places and just picked up various objects and improvised with them. Nothing sexual; I was naked, that was all.”

“But this time,” I said, “the Germans were ready for you?”

Pull The Other One act Wilfredo (left) with Adam Taffler on Skype this morning

Pull The Other One act Wilfredo (left) with Adam Taffler talked to me via Skype from Leipzig this morning

“I think they really, really enjoyed it,” replied Martin.

“They really did enjoy it,” agreed Adam. “They want so much to open up and we opened them a bit. They’re ready for a lot more of this type of style of humour.”

”What type of humour is that?” I asked. “Surrealist anarchy? When they saw Candy Gigi perform at Pull The Other One in Leipzig, they enjoyed it but mostly reacted with open-mouthed amazement: they hadn’t seen anything like her.”

“I think,” laughed Martin, “that it’s the supreme professionalism we bring to it that gobsmacks them.”

“What is it like now with Adam and Matt as the other two members of the Legs?” I asked.

New Legs (left to right) Adam Taffler, Matt Roper, Martin Soan use sanitised rubber bands

The new Legs (left to right) Adam Taffler, Matt Roper, Martin Soan now use sanitised rubber bands in their Thriller routine

“Well,” said Martin, “my two new members have got a thing about personal hygiene which I’ve never experienced with other Legs members before. They don’t want the balloons being in other people’s mouths. Nor their rubber bands. They sanitised their rubber bands before they went on. They were also rehearsing a bit too much for my liking. They may be a bit too polished for Legs purposes; but I will persist with them.”

“Saturday was our first show together,” said Adam.

“But not the last?” I asked.

“No,” said Martin. “Absolutely not the last.”

At this point, Vivienne Soan arrived on Skype.

“I’ve been in the bath with a mud pack on,” she said.

“What is next?” I asked.

On 4th October,” said Adam, “an irreverent variety night in a secret Victorian cemetery in London… with Stewart Lee, shadow puppetry and the British Humanist Choir.”

Soiree in a Cemetery

Soiree in a Cemetery – the location is kept secret until the day

“What happens if it rains?” I asked.

“People will bring umbrellas,” said Adam. “And we’ll have covered areas.”

“Like tombs?” I asked.

“Like awnings,” said Adam. “It will be cosy.”

The Greatest Show on Legs’ 1982 Balloon Dance is on YouTube.

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Filed under Comedy, Germany, Television

World War I, Cambodia and beheadings

Front page of Sunday Telegraph

Front of today’s Sunday Telegraph

I am posting my blog a little late today because, this morning and lunchtime, I went to the Imperial War Museum in London where, amongst other marketing matters, they were discussing reaction to the design of their new First World War exhibition area.

Yesterday, the self-styled Islamic State beheaded British aid worker David Haines.

When they beheaded the second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, a couple of weeks ago, my eternally-un-named friend and I discussed whether or not, if you were the family of the victim, you would want to – almost feel compelled to – watch the video of the beheading. I think we both came to the conclusion that we probably would.

I have no urge of any kind to see the beheading of any of these (so far three) victims.

But, for some reason, if I were a brother or father or son, I think I would want to see.

It makes no logical sense. It would have no good, positive effect. It would merely traumatise you with those images for the rest of your life. But there is, I suspect, some inexplicable human urge to experience the last seconds of your brother or husband or father or son.

The Imperial War Museum this morning

London’s Imperial War Museum this morning

The new Imperial War Museum exhibition on the First World War manages an excellent balance between facts and people. It is a big exhibition. I had 50 minutes to skim through it. But, to see it  properly might take three or four hours.

Strangely, the two things I will remember most are a film where not much happened – it was just German prisoners and British soldiers filing past a camera – but you could see all the faces and eyes of those now long-dead people…

And the other thing I will remember is a statistic right at the start of the exhibition which stated that, in the period 1900-1914, average life expectancy in the best parts of the West End of London was 55 (actually 55 for women; 50 for men) and life expectancy in the poorer East End of London was 30.

Nothing to do with the War, but it put it into context. It made that world come alive to me.

Killing fields outside Phnom Penh in Kampuchea/Cambodia

The killing fields outside Phnom Penh in Cambodia in 1989

I went to the killing fields of Phnom Penh and to Tuol Sleng in 1989. Tuol Sleng was the Khmer Rouge interrogation centre to which prisoners were taken before they were driven in trucks to the killing fields.

At the killing fields in 1989, you could see the outlines of the mass grave pits of 10 or 15 years before and, here and there, little shreds of shirts and slivers of human bones which had splintered off when skulls and hands and bodies had been smashed.

There were glass pagodas of skulls. But the slivers of bone and the glass pagodas were less horrifying than the small entrance hall to Tuol Sleng where the walls were covered with faces.

Photos at the S-21 interrogation centre in Phnom Penh

These people were at Tuol Sleng long ago

With Germanic efficiency, the Khmer Rouge had photographed their victims before they were taken to the killing fields. Photographs of their faces, as if they were passport photos for death.

All the men and women photographed knew they were going to die.

They did not think they might die.

They knew they were going to die and soon.

They all had that same look in their eyes: a distant, empty stare without hope.

So it goes.

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Filed under Museum, Terrorism, war

Goat dragging and mounted girl chasing near climax at the World Nomad Games

Buzkashi_Game (Photo by Gideon Tsang via Wikipedia)

Buzkashi as played in Afghanistan (goat carcass on the right)  (Photograph by Gideon Tsang via Wikipedia)

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned that my friend Lynn had drawn to my attention that the first World Nomad Games are currently taking place in Kyrgyzstan – in fact, on the shores of Issyk-Kul, in Cholpon-Ata City.

Information on this event is, alas, a bit thin on the ground and I seem to have missed a BBC TV report from the Games. They started on Tuesday and climax tomorrow with the finals of the traditional Central Asian sport of Kok-Boru (goat dragging – also known as Buzkashi and Kokpar).

Unfortunately, this blog has no contacts in Kyrgyzstan (though I am open to offers), so I am reliant heavily on the BBC who were told by nomad storyteller Doolotbek Sidikov:

“We inherited Kok-Boru from our ancestors. Courageous and brave men were picked up to look after the horses and sheep and often wolves would attack them. When a pack of wolves would attack them, they would surround them in a circle and then grab the wolves with their bare hands to throw them away, sometimes tearing them apart. People then started using a dead goat as game to practise.”

It sounds similar to how football in Scotland developed from regular Saturday night drinking bouts in Glasgow.

A Kyrgyz stamp featuring horse wrestling

A Kyrgyz stamp featuring horse wrestling

But the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan is far more that goat-dragging. It is a multi-sport event which also includes Oodarysh (wrestling on a horse), Tyin Emmei (picking up a coin while riding a horse at full speed) and the not-fully-explained Toguz Korkool. As far as I can figure out, this is something akin to a ‘board game’ played in a field of pits with 90 goat droppings.

Over-all,  400 athletes from 20 countries are taking part including competitors from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia (Altai, Bashkiria, Buryatia, Yakutia etc), Tajikistan, Turkey,  Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The organising committee point out that the “sports are in no way inferior in staginess and popularity of the modern Olympics. Games give powerful impetus to rebirth of original national sports, spiritual self-awareness.”

The Kyrgyzstan embassy also points out that “the near-absence of chemical fertilisers gives Kyrgyz beans an environmental purity that beans from other countries can’t match.”

Perhaps one of the nomad sports least likely to make a transition to the Olympic Games is Kyz-Kuumai – Chasing Girls On Horseback.

Dzangil Dairbekova whips boys

Dzangil Dairbekova told the BBC why she likes whipping boys

One of the sport’s female participants – Dzangil Dairbekova –  explains:

“I have competed in girl chasing for over four years now. Girl chasing is trying to avoid getting captured by a boy. If he catches her, he is allowed to kiss her three times but, if the girl escapes, then she can whip him three times. I have whipped boys many times. I love it and it makes me feel very much like a nomad.”

The BBC report on the World Nomad Games is on YouTube.

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Filed under Kyrgyzstan, Sport

The continuing story of Satan in a park in Vancouver – Hell Fights Back

The CTV News Channel’s censored pic of Satan

CTV News Channel’s slightly censored picture of the Satan

Yesterday, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith mentioned a nine-foot sculpture of Satan with an erect penis which had mysteriously appeared on Tuesday in a Vancouver park and was visible to people in passing commuter trains. No-one knew who ‘erected’ the statue and no-one claimed responsibility for creating it. The local authorities removed the statue on Wednesday because it was not officially commissioned by them.

Two hours after I posted my blog, I received this comment from someone with a Yahoo Canada e-mail address:

I’m glad it is gone… the continuing moral malaise the world finds itself in is demonstrated in this statue. Let us not forget that the representation of what is deemed as evil is now being exalted as a refreshing thing. Worshiping that which is the root cause of all corruption will only lead to our collective demise, see the fall of the Roman Empire.

Our system is completely corrupt, all of it lies. Promoting the idea to people to love the devil is akin to instructing people to live completely selfish lives devoid of any humanity, compassion, understanding, good will and love. You want a statue of the devil… go ahead, but please how about you openly place it in a more conducive venue for this type of expression. I have children also. Call me a prude ! You fucker.

This morning, I awoke to another e-mail from Anna Smith, telling me that over 1,500 people have signed an online petition to the Mayor of Vancouver  headed:

BRING THE GIANT SATAN-WITH-AN ERECTION STATUE BACK TO EAST VANCOUVER

The petition was started by a Darryl Greer who, apparently, plays bass in a local Vancouver band called Revenger. It reads:


The City of Vancouver has long been a leader in investing in public art to beautify its legendary and illustrious landscapes. For example, its near $100,000 expenditure on a statue of a porcelain dog on Main Street in the recent past served as a reminder that the merit of art is subjective and the value of public art can’t be qauntified simply in a dollar figure.

The Giant Satan-With-an-Erection statue, unlike the porcelain dog, cost the city nothing and was far more visible and likely to stir public debate than the barely visible cartoonish canine on a pole. Just as some were offended by the price tag and substance of the porcelain dog, others may have been offended at the sight of Lucifer’s Plastic Love Pump, but none would be offended at its price tag.

It simply cost its creator(s?) time and energy to construct and install with no thought of monetary gain, especially from the public purse. Just like the beloved “Dude Chilling Park” sign that was clandestinely installed and later allowed due to public pressure and support, the Giant Beelzebub-With-a-Boner statue should be reinstalled as a piece of public art and serve as a reminder that art is in the eye of the beholder and nothing more.


Apparently a sign saying DUDE CHILLING PARK appeared in Vancouver’s Guelph Park. Officials removed the sign, but it proved to be so popular that the city eventually relented and allowed a permanent sign to be installed in the park… although it was quickly stolen.

Comments on Darryl Greer’s Satan statue petition include:

This was the only public art piece in Vancouver in recent memory to even capture my attention. Most public art elicits little or no response from me or others. Art is meant to provoke thought and opinion. By this logic, the Satan statue holds artistic value and deserves to be reinstated.
Jordan Fehr (Vancouver)

To send a message to the politicians that art does not have to be pricey to be valuable to the taxpayers. We don’t want our money spent irrationally when someone is willing to display their work for free.
Shauna Johnson (Coquitlam, Canada)

Censoring art is a slippery slope, if we let even this one incident slide for fear of offending somebody, who knows what will be covered up next? Perhaps the Mona Lisa will be considered offensive to Muslims for showing too much skin.
Sean Idzenga (Hartington, Canada)

If we have to succumb to people standing directly outside of Skytrain stations (on public property) with megaphones, screeching Bible passages at us, I think a silent Satan statue is more than fair.
Daylya Ruyg (Vancouver)

Jesus this, Jesus that. What about Satan?
Melissa Athina (Ottawa, Canada)

We all need some devil dick in our lives.
Makayla Bailey (Vancouver)

Dude. Did you see the boner on that thing? That makes a statement, man. That puts Vancouver on the map.
Desmond Leflufy (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

It’s a human right to see Satan with a boner close to where you live.
Linus Sundstrom (Gothenburg, Sweden)

There is still some hope for the statue.

Canada’s National Post reports of the Satan-With-An-Erection sculpture:

Apparently a number of people have expressed interest in acquiring the devil statue for themselves. You have to admit, it would be a great conversation piece at parties. Plus, it would make a great hat rack.

Meanwhile, in other e-mail news flooding to my InBox, my friend Lynn (who knows about such things) draws my attention to the fact that this week sees the first World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan (a country to which, embarrassingly, she has been and I have not).

Among other things, Kyrgyz and Tajikistan horsemen yesterday took part in the traditional Central Asian sport of Kok-Boru (goat dragging).

How dull Vancouver seems by comparison.

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Filed under Art, Canada, Religion