Tag Archives: statue

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:


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.


Filed under Art, Canada, Religion

North Korea – the Leaders’ spectacles

A woman walks in front of the Great Statues

Did I mention the loudspeakers on the street lamp posts and the small speaker vans roaming the streets?

At 7.15am, sweet and sickly music drifts through Pyongyang, like unavoidable muzak. Freedom means your own choice of music. There is no choice of music in the morning streets of North Korea.

Last night in my hotel… rock hard bed; no mattress; cold water; no hot water. Our young female guide slept in the lobby because there were no spare rooms.

In the morning, we are taken to see the giant statue of the Great Leader Kim Il-sung on Mansudae Hill, which I first saw when I was here before in 1986. And, in fact, as of today, there are now two statues – of the Great Leader Kim Il-sung and of his recently-deceased son the Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il.

What surprises me is that, in both statues, the Leaders are wearing spectacles.

Kim Il-sung’s statue was not wearing spectacles in 1986.

Our North Korean guide, a little surprised that I had remembered the statue so well, explains that the original Kim Il-sung statue was replaced at some unknown time by a new one in which he wore spectacles and was smiling.

“The Great Leader felt he looked too stern in the first statue,” the guide explains “He wanted to smile at his people.”

So now both statues smile.

Then we are whisked off to a gigantic flower exhibition packed like sardines in a thimble. And to the Great Leader’s birthplace.

We are also taken to the American spy ship USS Pueblo, captured in 1968 and now moored on the river bank in Pyongyang. It is guarded by armed sailors. Do the North Koreans really dream the Americans will try to snatch it back? We are shown round the ship and treated to a film on the perfidy of the American Imperialists, but we are not allowed to enter the ship’s code room, the entrance to which is blocked by a uniformed, unsmiling North Korean sailor.

Why? I wonder.

Do they think there are still secret messages lurking there, un-decoded since 1968, which we could use to undermine the people’s paradise of North Korea?

As we leave the Pueblo, there is an American standing on the bow, like Leonardo Di Caprio in Titanic. On the river bank, a cameraman is profusely thanking a North Korean minder. We are told the man on the bow is a reporter for the (right wing) Fox News TV channel in the US and he is recording a report.

Have the North Koreans totally lost the plot?

Yes, of course they have.

We are taken for a ride in the metro. Only a few stops because, as I understand it, only a few stops are decked-out in the Stalinesque marble-and-chandelier manner.

Our first train is relatively empty. Our second is packed tight, not dissimilar to the London Underground in the high tourist season but even more like the Tokyo Metro with people pushing and elbowing to get on. I stand by the door, my back protected, slightly separated from our guides/guards by the shoulder-to-shoulder throng.

A small, wiry man perhaps in his mid-thirties pushes onto the train and sees my white Western face.

“Where you from?” he asks.

We have been told (true or false) that English is now taught in all North Korean schools.

“England,” I reply. “UK… London.”

“I love your country,” the man says, pushing past, looking into my face. “I love your Par-lee-ment. Our country is…”

His last word is, annoyingly, inaudible. It sounds like “putrid” but cannot be: it is too sophisticated a word for his limited English vocabulary.

I hold my finger up to my lips, as if to say, “Quiet!” and glance sideways towards our guides to warn him they are there. Then he is lost in the stuffed carriage.

I do not know what he said, but it was not complimentary.

Short and slippery slope, I think to myself.

Later, I ask one of our guides where Kim Il-sung used to live. I am told he used to live in what is now his mausoleum: the very grand Kumsusan Memorial Palace (currently closed for unknown reasons)

“Where did Kim Jong-il live?” I ask.

“I do not know,” I am told. “It is not known.”

In fact, anyone outside North Korea can see inside what used to be Kim Jong-Il’s compound on Google Earth. You can see the swimming pool, the water slide, the personal train station which linked into the metro system and, one presumes, into the above-ground rail system.

That is what is so mystifying about the North Korean paranoia about GPS positioning. You can bring a computer into the country; you can bring a WiFi-enabled Kindle into the country; but you cannot bring in mobile phones or tablets, because they have GPS positioning. They have not yet twigged that the more modern digital cameras have GPS. They are obsessed with the danger of people with GPS-enabled devices.

But anyone with a GPS iPhone or iPad is not actually a security risk who is going to help the Americans target their cruise missiles. Because the GPS positioning we use comes from the American spy satellites anyway. Anything I can do on an iPhone or iPad is something I do courtesy of the CIA and the NSA.

The North Koreans are obsessed by people seeing into secret above-ground areas, but seem to ignore the fact that the satellites can see everything anyway and, going to any computer in my home, I can see Pyongyang in detail on Google Earth.

In the evening, from my hotel window, I see another big fireworks display taking place near the river, by the Tower of the Juche Idea.


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Filed under North Korea, Politics