Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Anti-Semitism from a Carnegie Board member and Mr. Dress Up

The woman in front of me in the cafeteria was buying a banana and a potato salad -- they make a nice potato salad with the skins left on -- in the Carnegie Center yesterday. An aboriginal guy, a Carnegie Board member who sometimes volunteers at the cafeteria, was operating the cash register and jokingly asked her how much she owed him. She said "$1.15". He said it was actually $1.50. He then added jokingly, "You don't have a bit of Hebrew in your blood do you?" She said, "Hebrew?"

An aboriginal woman ahead of her, who had just gone through the cash, looked at the woman and laughed, as though she expected a bonding moment on this humor. The laughing aboriginal woman is well known at Carnegie, having been recently held up as a role model by Carnegie staff and management as "Volunteer of the Year". Before that the povertarians got her a job a the now defunct Four Corners Community Bank that Jim Green started.

The cashier had by this time had turned his attention to ringing in the purchases and, when he did so, realized that the woman had been right. He announced that she actually did owe just $1.15.

I thought of yesterday's anti-semitic moment at Carnegie when I was reading a post on Covenant Zone blogspot this morning about how Palestinians are using Western children's programming -- Mr. Dress Up, Mickey Mouse, etc. -- to indoctrinate children into hatred of Jews and Israel.

The "Hebrew" comment at Carnegie didn't come out of a vacuum if you ask me, but from an environment in which ones-sided information is provided encouraging disdain for Jews and Israel. Upstairs the Carnegie Center has hosted pro-Palestinian talks inviting speakers, some of them Jews and one of them a Palestinian, who make a hobby of criticizing Israel. There have also been movies shown on this theme. Never has there been anything to my knowledge that would be sympathetic to Israel. The Carnegie newsletter, subsidized by the City of Vancouver, also tends to be pro-Palestinian. The joking cashier/Board member has been around for years so it would be hard to believe that he hasn't been exposed to this.

A change of topic -- Bored by Mr. Dress Up, fascinated by Ooglie Wooglie

Reading about Mr. Dress Up and the Friendly Giant on Covenant Zone blogspot brought back memories of the crappy children's programming I was exposed to. As Paul Simon sings, "It's a wonder I can think at all."

I remember being a kid and thinking that Mr. Dress Up talked in a phony way. Years later, I read about some popular children's television entertainer who didn't realize he was being broadcast and he said what he really thought of the kids viewing, calling them little bastards, etc. I immediately wondered if that's the attitude Mr. Dress Up was suppressing behind his phony voice.

Mr. Dress Up bored the daylights out of me. I learned nothing because I just got too bored to sit in front of the television and watch him. I didn't find Finnigan interesting either; he was some sort of puppet figure who Mr. Dress Up chattered to.

I was bored with the Friendly Giant too. But I liked him a little better than Mr. Dress Up. I liked the way the furniture on the set was built to different scales, some huge and some miniature. Years later, as an adult, I was watching the news and they played a clip of the Friendly Giant sitting in the rocking chair and announced that he'd died. I was sad, but just for a minute. I thought of the deprivation of my childhood in Ottawa, sitting in front of the television trying to glean something from the Friendly Giant.

There was another children's show that I used to watch. A woman would stand in front of the camera beside a huge sheet of paper hanging on a tripod, and she would tell a story about a worm named Oogly Wooglie. She used a black felt pen to sketch illustrations as she told the story. When she finished one picture, she would flip the paper over the back of the tripod and she would start drawing on a fresh piece. She was calm but fast in the way she would keep the pictures coming.

Even then, I knew that this was a very cheap way to do a television show. But I liked it. I liked the way she drew Ooglie Wooglie's head with one quick line in a half-oval shape, and then two eyes with two more quick lines in half-oval shapes. Sometimes she would underscore each eye with a quick, loose, horizontal line. No extraneous detail at all. I don't remember her name. I think it was "Miss" something.