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Injuries and sports go hand and hand but no matter how many games you watch or play… nothing can tone down, or prepare you for the feeling that sets in when an athlete lies motionless with a suspected neck injury.

It’s terrifying, the consequences are permanent and life changing.

Image

(Photo: CBC)

So when Bishop’s university football player Joe Fortin was placed on a spinal board at Percival Molson stadium on Friday night the reaction, the outpouring of concern, the fear of the worst case scenario was all understandable.

The stadium held its breath… and waited for help to arrive.

It took a while.

It was 27 minutes before an ambulance showed up. An unacceptable delay which was swiftly criticized on twitter by those watching this young man wait for help.

Bishop’s graduate and Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani was one of the most vocal, “Emergency protocols must be instituted IMMEDIATELY at all arenas/stadiums for amateur sport. Initial moments after major trauma is critical” he tweeted.

Madani is right. But the sad part is… in the CIS changes are LONG overdue.

In 2004 I was a defensive back for the Mount Allison Mounties. Playing in Halifax against Saint Mary’s University, the quarterback scrambled on a broken play and I rallied down to make a tackle. I didn’t quite make it. My linebacker caught the quarterback from behind, as he fell forward I jumped to avoid him. But at the same time my teammate was blocked from behind and fell head first into the into the collision area. As I jumped my left leg was caught between my teammate’s helmet and the quarterback’s helmet. It snapped like a twig about six inches above the ankle.

Just like Joe Fortin on Friday night, I had to wait nearly 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. After team trainers wrapped my leg in whatever was available, I was dragged to the sideline, given a piece of foam to bite down on, and told help was on the way.

I was lucky it was a clean break and the delay didn’t cause permanent nerve damage to my leg. But i’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. I can only imagine what Fortin was thinking as he waited 27 minutes strapped to a spinal board.

In the end Fortin was not paralyzed, but the fact that ten years after my injury CIS football players are still left to revel in pain on the sideline without immediate top end medical care is shocking.

Football is a violent game where serious injuries to players is probable at all times. But still some universities choose not to pay for an ambulance to be on site during games.

On Saturday, McGill athletic director Drew Love told the CBC’s Tanya Brikbeck that the university is going to rethink its policy on providing an ambulance for games. My question is… what is there to think about? This should be a no brainer.

Right now (as it was in 2004) schools are left to decide on their own if they want to pay to have an ambulance on site.  As a result, I’ve found that schools in the downtown core of a cities tend not to take the same precautions as schools which are located further away from a hospital emergency room.

McGill is next door to the Royal Victoria Hospital but Love said that construction on the streets near the stadium may have delayed the ambulance’s arrival.

When you’re dealing with a high collision sport like football any delay in treating a serious injury can make a significant difference to the long term health of the athlete. Top end on field care should not be optional. The players in these games are strapping on the university logo and putting everything on the line when they step on the field. Any delay is unacceptable. The players in these games deserve better.

It’s time for the CIS and the RSEQ to make on field ambulances mandatory at football games. This incident once again serves as an example that when you let institutions police themselves… they often don’t. And when services aren’t offered at the expensive of a player’s safety, it’s simply unacceptable.

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***This article was first published in 2006 – I wrote it for an Anglo magazine while I was living in Japan… I thought I’d re-post it tonight in honor of Bon Jovi’s back-to-back sold out shows in Montreal (Also I had sushi for diner…)

Bon Jovi’s popularity – will – never – die.

Rock on…

Half Way There: Why I Will Never Be Cool in Japan

Why is Bon Jovi such a hit in Japan? This is a question that has haunted me since my arrival here. I have always known that Bon Jovi was popular in places other than North America. But upon seeing his face on the cover of a hard core metal magazine entitled BURN I realized that in Japan, Mr. Jovi has taken it to another level and I am officially out of my element. I mean if Bon Jovi is the face of ‘cool’ in Japan I am so not cool it is embarrassing.

The fact is, certain English speaking celebrities seem to become more popular in non-English speaking countries than they are in English speaking countries. For example David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany and is a joke in North American. Kevin Costner was so loved oversees that even Water World made money outside of North America.

These are just a few minor examples. However, Mr. Jovi takes the cake. It is mind boggling that even well over a decade after he was even remotely cool in North America he can still be going strong and influencing fashion in Japan.

I had always assumed that Japan was the place where celebrities who were falling out of fashion in the ‘real world of cool’ went to die. They could come to the land of the rising sun and for a few years at least they could prolong their careers.

Like the last scene in the movie Spinal Tap where head banging Japanese rockers are just catching on to a trend that was long dead. I naturally assumed that Bon Jovi was making one last comeback in Japan, and then he would gracefully fade away into the archives of the karaoke machine.

How wrong I was.

It turns out that in Bon Jovi’s case he actually got his start here in Japan. He was big here before he was big in the North America. So that can explain and justify, to a certain degree, his popularity and quasi love affair with this country.

However, his longevity is what is most outstanding. If he was big in Japan before he was even heard of in North America it means that this guy has been trend setting in Japan for something like 20 years.

His image has become synonymous with the image of young Japanese. Somehow it is still cool in Japan to sport his tight ripped jeans and his rocker hair doo combination. New fashions may come and go, but if you’re Japanese and stuck for an outfit to wear out you can always fall back on the Bon Jovi classic look. In Japan this is the fashion formula that works 100% of the time.

Despite this un-questionable truth, I simply cannot, with any shred of self respect or dignity, pull off the Bon Jovi style. Therefore I lack the primary building block on which to become cool in this country.

When I see people wearing the Bon Jovi throw backs I can’t help but think, “man that is just not cool,” but after seeing person after person wearing this style, it began to dawn on me; in Japan I am just straight up not cool.

By moving here I have become the parallel to the awkward Asian exchange student that we all most undoubtedly had some experience with during our high school or university days. I am now that guy that the cool people took out because it was funny to see what things they would say and do because he simply didn’t know any better.

In an attempt to tune myself into what it means to be cool in Japan, I have reached out to the most obvious available resource; the youth. I’m constantly asking my students for the most popular music and carefully looking for new trends. The only re-occurring theme is…yes you guessed it… Bon Jovi.

Even Jr. High and High School students like him. They like him so much that students even write in their journals that he is their favorite musician. Young kids seem to have equally as strong as passion for Bon Jovi, his music and his style, as do those who spurred his blossoming popularity over 20 years ago.

Bon Jovi, like a tobacco company, somehow gets people hooked when they are very young and turns this demographic into his fans for life. Based on my sample polling of the youth in Japan his ballads will be sung in karaoke bars for decades to come. As with each new generation is born another generation of Japanese who are loyal to living the Bon Jovi dream.

Unfortunately this condemns me to never being able to achieve cool status in Japan. I simply can’t accept that Bon Jovi and all things Bon Jovi are cool. Maybe it’s because the prettiest girl in school refused to dance with me during a playing of Always at a grade 4 sock hop. Or maybe it’s because in his style of clothing I look like I belong in a Twisted Sister video. This is a part of Japanese life that I will never come to terms with personally. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll belt out a course or Living on a Prayer just as loud as the next guy at karaoke. But it will never make me cool in Japan.

Douglas Gelevan July 2006

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RiP: A Remix Manifesto (2008) is a film about copyright law and the challenges that artists and industry are facing thanks to the internet and the wide-spread file-sharing world that it has created.

The writer and director, Brett Gaylor, calls RiP a movie about a war over ideas. Not only did Gaylor write and direct this film, he also had a hand in the animation and editing, which were essential parts of the film’s tone and message. EyeSteelFilm, a firm out of Montreal, produced it in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada.

The film’s central character is Greg Gillis who is also known by his stage name: Girl Talk. Gillis is a mash-up artist. He’s one of the first of his kind. A mash-up artist takes samples of songs and blends them together to make a new unique song. Although people have been mixing songs together since the creation of the cross-fader Gillis was one of the first to harness computer technology and digital music and do something creative with it.

Watch Greg Gillis Give an example of a Mash Up

Questions started to arise about the legality of Girl Talk’s music as his popularity started to grow in the early noughties. Despite a growing consensus that his songs were creative and new the fact remained that his albums were all sampled from prerecorded material. Although Gillis never intended to become a pirate or a rebel, the American campaign against copyright piracy that was kicked off by music downloading turned him into one. His reputation as a rebel actually contributed to appeal and his popularity grew as a result of this.

Due to the creative nature of mash-ups fans consider Gillis an artist. Others consider what he does as copyright infringement. For those who think Gillis is on the wrong side of the law we need only to look at his 2006 album Night Ripper for an example of what he might be liable for. That album had potential for estimated 300 copyrights infringement lawsuits and carried a maximum financial liability penalty in the neighborhood of 45 million dollars US.

Gaylor uses Gillis as a case study to explore American copyright law in his film. He stylistically sets the film up like a Girl Talk song. It watches like a video mash-up track and is clearly inspired by Girl Talk’s style of music.

To set the stage he creates two sides. One called the ‘CopyRIGHT’ that is made up of corporations and media conglomerates. These are the people who own the right to mountains of intellectual property. And the other called the ‘CopyLEFT’ that represents the public domain and the free exchange of ideas. Gaylor characterizes the conflict as a war and identifies the battleground as the Internet. He characterizes the battle as a classic David vs. Goliath scenario and it’s a theme that he returns to many times through out the film.

A review of RiP on iofilm.co.uk accurately called “this the kind of film where everyone is either a villain or a hero.” (Read the article)

In the war that Gaylor has identified he firmly places himself on the hero side, which is CopyLEFT. In the opening sequence of the film he calls the conflict “personal” and he goes on to recruit like-minded people to support his vision. Together they create the backbone of this film: A Remixer’s Manifesto.

1 – Culture Always Builds On The Past

2 – The Past Always Tries To Control The Future

3 – Our Future Is Becoming Less Free

4 – To Build Free Societies You Must Limit The Control Of The Past

This film becomes Gaylor’s battle cry. It’s his call to the masses to rise up against the established giant armies of the CopyRIGHT and fight for our right to use ideas freely. Or as Gillis says in the opening, our right to “put Elton John in a headlock, put a beat behind him and pour a beer on his head.”

Gaylor recruits a small army of activists to support his cause. The most influential for the film is Lawrence Lessig. Lessig is an extensively published author, a professor at Stanford, and a lawyer. He’s best described as either an anti-copyright renegade or a pro-public domain freedom fighter. In either description he’s a polarizing character. His position against copyright law’s control over ideas is especially applicable to this film. The following quote is from an interview with Lessig that is available online through Gaylor’s website opensourcecinema.org. Anyone can take this video and remix it freely.

“In the world of text (written work) people are free to write and recreate the culture that’s around them. Without relying on clearing permissions upfront and relying on a very robust set of freedoms entrenched in the law. But, if you use digital technology to do the same things you don’t have any of those freedoms. That’s a censorship of people’s creative activity, the ability of people to speak and spread their message using all the culture that’s around them.”

This quote echoes one of Gaylor’s central points for the film. That copyright law is out of control and being manipulated for profit. In fact Lessig repeats this message in a scene in the film when Gaylor brings up ‘fair use’ for the first time. Fair use a key legal protection for artists and its importance will be expanded on later.

Lessig however, is the character that Gaylor uses to build legitimacy for his cause. With an authority like Lessig on their side, Gaylor, Gillis and the legions of the sweaty dancing Internet generation don’t seem as much like a bunch of kids refusing to follow their parent’s copyright rules. Lessig lends a rational and reasonable element to Gaylor’s the call to war against copyright. He’s an effective character in the film.

To further mobilize his army against the forces of the CopyRIGHT Gaylor created the aforementioned website: OpenSourceCinema.org. This website actually becomes a central character in the movement against the control of ideas for the film. The website represents the viewers of the film, the consumers of cultural media, the downloaders of music, the uploaders of videos and of course the creatively repressed by copyright law. In short it represents you.

As part of Gaylor’s effort to innovate with his video mash-up documentary he set up this website and called on the Internet generation to contribute remixed material for the film. It was an effective and fresh way to engage the public and build up hype. The sprit of this website fit perfectly with the tone of this film. Nothing Gaylor creates is off limits and the message is that if you can make his work-in-progress better through your creativity then it should be in the movie.

There is a strong scene in the movie when Girl Talk is on stage at one of his shows that is essentially the mission statement for OpenSourceCinema. Gillis calls out to the audience. “I know there are a lot of cameras in the audience. This shit is not about me, it’s about all of us ‘cause were the same motherfuckin’ person. So take a picture of your goddamn self, ‘cause were all the same DUDE!”

In a 2007 interview with Scott Krisner of cinematech.blogspot.com Gaylor talked about his motivation for using the website to expand the scope of the film. He explains that in the Internet media age an artist’s worst enemy can be the desire to control everything they create.

(Watch the whole interview)

“It’s a give and take. I, as the creator have given up my control of my footage and in turn I’m asking you to give up a bit of your control. That’s what we have to do as artist if we want to get over this hump that we’re in right now. How do we make money online? On some levels it’s about giving up a little bit of that control.”

In RiP Gaylor pushes the boundaries of control by using a legal protection called fair use. Gaylor says that fair use is part of copyright law that allows artists to use small amounts of copyrighted material as long as the artist is making a point. In a 2008 MacLean’s article about this film Brian D. Johnson called what Gaylor does in this movie as “walking a fine line (gangplank?) between fair usage and piracy… he (Gaylor) claims that everything he’s done is within the legal bounds of fair use. We’ll see if Disney and the (Rolling) Stones concur.” (Read the whole article)

Using copyrighted material is the biggest challenge that Gaylor faced making this film. But, he had no other choice but to push fair use to the legal boundary because as he said in one scene, even if he had enough money to buy the rights to every image and sound “there is no amount of money in the world that would convince the music industry to use their own music to criticize them”

Watch Brett Gaylor and Lawrence Lessig discuss ‘Fair Use’

It’s hard to imagine that this film could have been made if Gaylor didn’t have the backing of the NFB and the small army of supporters that he built thought the website. If he was a small independent filmmaker he probably would not have been able to fight the CopyRIGHT if they had of decided to put pressure on him. RiP is effective example of the power of collaborative effort. A collective voice backed by reputable people and organizations such as Lessig and the NFB has the power to fend off the CopyRIGHT and get a film made.

A takeaway from this film is that individuals are hopeless if they hope to fight the CopyRIGHT. Gaylor shows examples of average people, church ministers and basement artists who are steamrolled into submission by industry legal pressure. The only way to survive, according to Gaylor, is to call on the power of the Internet community. It’s a classic argument of people power and it fits nicely into the fourth point of the Remixers Manifesto – to build free societies you must limit the control of the past.

Gaylor builds the viewer up into frenzy through out RiP. He shows you the injustice and the absurdity of copyright law. He makes you mad that faceless corporations have the power to limit your free speech for the pursuit of profits. At the end he calls on you to pick up the flag and carry on with the battle against the CopyRIGHT. “Put me in a headlock and pour a beer on my head,” he says to the viewer. This is inspiring, but the scale of the argument assumes too much. It assumes that that there is this growing movement against copyright law bubbling up from the masses of the Internet generation. Gaylor over plays his hand on this point.

The fact is that this movement against copyright law is small and focused. The Internet generation, with some exceptions, is largely made up of passive people who aren’t prepared to get in a fight and will fold like a house of cards when pressure is applied. In fact Gaylor was only able to provide one example of a person who fought against a copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States. And that person got crushed so badly in court they actually do serve as a good example of “what happens when you don’t settle.”

Anyone with anything to lose won’t be taking to the streets to fight for their right to use a Mickey Mouse clip. Gaylor thinks we should fight and he’s right, free speech is worth fighting for. But, growing up with the Internet has also bred a generation of people who expect things easily and without much effort. Gaylor expects them to do some heavy lifting in the fight against the CopyRIGHT but this isn’t a cause that will inspire that level of rebellion.

What Gaylor largely ignores is that this war will ultimately hinge on the next generation of artists. He points to Radiohead as pioneers who are putting their material up and asking people to pay what they want to for their music. But, emerging artists don’t have the financial nest egg that bands such as Radiohead have. These people often can’t afford to be sued or give away their work for free. He offers no answers for these people.

The strength of this film is the style that it’s presented. It’s a mash-up of delightfully familiar images and songs. It keeps the viewer wanting more and more. The fact that what you are seeing and hearing is likely illegal makes the viewer feel like they are a part of the fight against the CopyRIGHT. In a way you feel like a badass by watching this film. It does a wonderful job on evoking emotion and the argument, although over played, is simple, clear and well structured. This documentary proves that mash-ups aren’t just a mess of stolen noise. They’re a carefully and meticulously constructed form of art that deserves recognition on a wider scale.

It’s no surprise that this film has won more than ten awards and has been screened at film festivals around the world. It’s a great introduction to copyright law and anyone who posts or downloads anything from the Internet would benefit from watching RiP: A Remix Manifesto.

By Douglas Gelevan – April 1, 2010

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