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2003 – City hall would like the Sultan of Fun job to go to someone with a masters degree and 10 years in the festival racket. “Neither P.T Barnum or Walt Disney would make the cut,” Salmi says.

The Province
September  7, 2003
A26
The Fun Police are here, better smile
Dan Murphy

September, 2003, is just possibly shaping up to be one of those big, bold, world-changing months that future generations will point back at and say “Now that’s where civilization really got on the ball/went to Hell in a handbasket.”

One way or other, there are portentous things afoot.

Seattle, for example, will be voting later this month on something really revolutionary, especially for a coffee-drinking town — a dime-a-cup tax on espresso.

Proponents of the initiative figure the tax could raise $6.5 million a year to fund daycare for low-income families.

The move has understandably thrown a chill into the hoity-toity from Palm Beach to West Vancouver, as they dread the next logical step — a quiche tariff.

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And the U.S. Transportation Department has just announced that, for the first time ever, cars outnumber car drivers in the U.S.

The average U.S. household is now occupied by 1.90 cars but only 1.75 drivers.

I think that North America’s cars have been waiting for this shift in the balance of power for a long time. There even seems to be something different in they way they idle now, something smirky.

I think this is part of their masterplan. They have figured out a way to do it all without us. And that whole move on Iraq’s oil was probably suggested to Bush by a jeep in Texas.

– – –

This is also the September when we may finally find out who Vancouver’s Sultan of Fun will be.

The Sultan of Fun — or, as it’s referred to in the job description, Social Planner II — will be hired by city hall to help Vancouver throw more festivals and have more fun.

And long-time Terminal City columnist, impresario, political philosopher and Godzilla-suit-wearer Brian Salmi would like the job.

Salmi has posted a whole lot of ideas about how Vancouver could have more fun on his website at http://www.salmi.ca.

His Funcouver Festival, which Salmi envisions for Labour Day weekend, would kick off with the Flying Wallendas walking a tightrope from the Hotel Vancouver to Cathedral Place.

So, are the Flying Wallendas still flying?

“The Flying Wallendas are still flying,” Salmi says. “But I believe the Flying Wallendas have a no-net policy, which I don’t think would work, because that’s not a good way to start a Funcouver Festival — by having people dropping down and splattering themselves all over.”

So, if the Flying Wallendas refused to work with a net, you’d have like the Flying Schwartzes up there.

“Yeah.”

Of course, there is the downside to fun. My biggest personal nightmare not involving the cast of Friends is that this thing will end up with the Fun Police coming to my door late at night with a badminton racket and a beach ball.

“To force you to come out and have fun?”

Yeah.

“Nobody’s gonna come in and unplug anybody’s TV,” Salmi says.

“What I see this position as being actually is acting like a catalyst to bring together the various disparate forces that will be necessary for us to overcome the no-fun-city attitude that’s been so pervasive.

“What I want to do is bring together the business community, venture capitalists, the cultural arts community, impresarios, the ethnic community, young people, gays.

“We need to start to embrace and nurture the creative spirit that’s in this city. You can’t swing a cat without hitting somebody that’s got some beautiful, crazy idea in their head — but the various institutions have somehow combined forces, over the the last decade particularly, to thwart that natural spirit.

“All of those ideas that I’ve got on my site, if not one of them ever comes to fruition, it doesn’t matter to me because they’ll be replaced by five-million great ideas.”

City hall would like the Sultan of Fun job to go to someone with a masters degree and 10 years in the festival racket.

“Neither P.T Barnum or Walt Disney would make the cut,” Salmi says.

He hopes that his years as a Greenpeace organizer, writer and freelance “funarchist” will account for something.

Salmi also spent three years as manager/talent coordinator at the Niagara bar, which was to local heavy-metal, country-western, grunge- a-billy bands what the Bolshoi is to ballet.

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