Portrait of the subversive artist

Overture

October 22 2001
Portrait of the subversive artist

Overture

October 22 2001

Overture

Shanda Deziel

Amy Cameron

As army surplus stores struggle to keep gas masks stocked on North American shelves, a Canadian company is stepping up to fill the demand. Vancouver-based Brookdale International Systems Inc. has been shipping 1,000 EVAC-U8s per day-five times its normal rate-mainly to U.S. stores and organizations. Although not a standard gas mask, the “smoke hood,” designed by company CEO John Swann, can protect against some gases, including ammonia, sulphur dioxide, chlorine and hydrogen sulphide. Introduced in 1994 as a shield against smoke inhalation, the mask can protect a user for up to 40 minutes depending on the intensity of the situation. The translucent Kapton hood can resist heat of more than 400° C. “It can’t protect you when a building collapses,” says Swann, “but it gives you time to get the hell out.”

Not your average gas mask

The $110 device has been purchased by the U.S. state department and the New York police and fire departments. As the threat of chemical warfare increases, Swann has bumped up the production schedule of an EVAC unit with nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities. “Our staff is going flat-out to have it available in the next couple of months," says Swann, adding it will use a HEPA filter and a different grade carbon than the original. In this case, putting a bag over your head might just save your life. John Intini

Portrait of the subversive artist

The line between fact and fiction is decidedly blurred in the life and work of Vancouver-born multimedia artist Dana Wyse. Based in Paris since 1995, Wyse returned to her home town last month for her first Canadian exhibition. The show was called Jesus Had a Sister Productions, which is also the name Wyse uses in lieu of a signature on most of her pieces. Her work takes the form of faux consumer products, including a range of cleverly packaged pills and powders-claiming to cure everything from bad haircuts to unfaithful husbands-as well as a line of gay toys: sewing kits for boys; plastic hand grenades for girls.

At her shows, the “merchandise” hangs from pegs on stainless steel racks, just like in a real store, and viewers are permitted to handle the novelties, which are in fact for sale. “People are not in the habit of going to a gallery and par-

ticipating in the show,” says Wyse, whose pieces also appear in the permanent collections of high-profile modern-art galleries in New York City, Los Angeles and Berlin. Now preparing for consecutive shows in France and Germany, Wyse says her pop-cultural interpretations are obliquely autobiographical. “It’s a really personal work,” she says, “which is often forgotten. It’s my story, a record of my experiences on earth, my struggles and dreams and obsessions.”

David Wright

When war coincides with peace

In 1973, the prize was divided between the two men who negotiated the Vietnam peace accord-Le Duc Tho, a top-ranking Communist party official from North Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger, then-U.S. secretary of state. Tho declined the prize-the only time in its history that the award was refused-and Kissinger’s alleged role in various world conflicts, including the bloody 1973 coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, has his most vociferous critics now calling for him to be tried as a war criminal.

As the world watches war unfold in Afghanistan, the Nobel Peace Prize celebrates its 100th anniversary. Here are some of its more controversial past recipients:

In 1978, Israel’s prime minister, Menachem Begin, was given the award jointly with Egypt’s president, Mohammad Anwar Al-Sadat, for negotiating peace between their two countries. Four years later, Begin ordered his armies to invade Lebanon and destroy the military bases of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, sparking an international controversy.

In 1994, Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, shared the award with Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel, and Shimon Peres, foreign minister of Israel, for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.

A self-proclaimed hockey savant

Ask Liam Maguire an obscure question about our national sport, like, “Who scored the fastest hat trick in NHL history?” and he’ll have your answer in a second. He’ll be right, too. (Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Blackhawks, in 21 seconds, in 1952.) Maguire, 42, has a passion for the game that goes beyond your typical Canadian’s love for hockey. “I’m a biased, pro-Canadian nationalistic hockey fan," says the Kars, Ont., native. His book, Whats the Score?, is a fascinating collection of hockey lore, history and stats-for example, Boston Bruin Phil Esposito scored his 50th goal of the season on his birthday three times.

Maguire’s “trivial” career started when he was 21 and working at a local arena. He was eating lunch atop a Zamboni and listening to a sports trivia show-on a whim he called in and wowed the station with his knowledge. He was asked back, and listeners were invited to try and stump him. Since then, Maguire has earned his bread and butter from hockey trivia. But his talent runs much deeper. He remembers almost everything to do with facts and figures. He can recite the postal codes of every house he’s ever lived in and even remembers his first girlfriend’s licence plate number. Maguire is also proud to say he’s never forgotten his wedding anniversary or wife’s birthday. All that makes the encyclopedic hockey guru somewhat of a statistical anomaly.

Michael Snider

Exploring the realm of easy riders

It began as a way for CBC Television and Radio-Canada to work together on a project. The subject was perfect-bilingual, national, in the public consciousness-and so a miniseries was born. The Last Chapter is a fictional look at biker gangs in Canada and the men who run these outlaw organizations. “We wanted to show who they really are,” explains producer Claudio Luca. “That they are not only young punks, but rich and powerful people.” And should the six-hour series be a success when it airs in March, 2002, it could pave the way for more collaborations between the two broadcasters down the road. The series follows the efforts of two Canada-wide gangs who are fighting to establish a Toronto chapter. Shot in Montreal and Toronto, the story examines the various realms of biker gangs ineluding prostitution and drugs.

While Luca hopes the series will be informative for Canadians, even he learned an amazing thing about his own province of Quebec-it’s filled with motorcycle fanatics beyond its infamous biker gangs. Hundreds of people showed up-from serious motorcycle collectors to the doctors, lawyers and dentists who are weekend riders—to play extras in the large bike scenes. “I didn’t know that people were so crazy about them,” he says. “All of those baby boomers buying all of those bikes.” Amy Cameron

Over and Under Achievers

Lemons & Berrys

Andrew Spence: U.S. economist with Canadian roots wins Nobel for explaining why we don’t trust used-car salesmen. Now, can he show why we don’t trust economists?

Three-down football: The CFL’s governors finally approve return of an Ottawa fran-

chise for 2002

season after five-year hiatus. Russ Jackson and Tony Gabriel, start working out now!

Research in Motion: Canadian wireless technology firm, buffeted lately by tech-wary markets, poised to sell secure version of BlackBerry communication devices to U.S. army. Nice timing.

Overbites

“I caught the ball, and it was a mass of humanity, or, as I call it now, a mass of inhumanity.

But the bottom line is, I caught Barry’s ball.”

-Alex Popov had Barry Bonds’ record 73rd home-run ball, then was mobbed and lost it. He’s retained a lawyer to try to get it back

“I am just savouring the moment.” -Statement from Patrick Hayashi, who ended up with the ball

“Right now, I am the idiot who spent $3 million on the crown jewel of sports memorabilia. If the record falls, I’m the idiot who spent $3 million on a $5 ball.” -Canadian comic-book creator Todd McFarlane in 1999, after purchasing Mark McGwire’s 70th home-run ball