Monday, 23 May 2016

What do actor Rick Boland and Lego have in common?

Actor Rick Boland - this would be the before picture.  I couldn't bring
 myself to post the after-attack image.

The sun is shining on a long weekend here in St. John's, NL but I keep having dark thoughts about my increasing awareness of violence in my immediate environment.  Maybe it is a little self-indulgent after my brooding about all the war related art that anniversaries inevitably bring…but my mood plummeted when I learned of the recent beating of actor Rick Boland.  A friend in the theatre community had shared with me via Facebook a fundraising plea to facilitate dental work for Boland.  I believe Boland had been brutally assaulted in our downtown area.  The plea was linked to a gofundme effort organized by Anne Marie Annonsen for $4,000 stating that "not only so that he can eat but also as an actor.  Help bring back his lovely face!" I am happy to report that 84 people contributed $3,735 in a five-day period.

When I first heard of the attack, I had trouble talking about anything else with friends I met in cafes or on the street.  I am aware of attacks in the bathrooms of our high schools, which we contextualize as bullying.  I am aware of current wars through the refugees I meet at social events.  I don't need TV or the Trump campaign.  It just keeps getting closer to home.  And it starts to dawn on me that violence is everywhere.  I remember my rationalization that one of the reasons why I picked small city St. John's to settle in and raise a family was that it was safer than the big cities of Toronto and Montreal that I had previously lived in.  I don't know if I was foolish, if things have changed, or what the appropriate explanation is.  I do know that it doesn't seem to make sense anymore; that no effort to join the dots make connections or find meaning in these horrible actions will make a difference.  At least not right now.

Lego's efforts to stay in tune with current culture.

So, I try and divert myself.  Enjoy the company of gentle friends; avoid the news on TV, radio and stick to the art section in an international newspaper.  I find an article about Lego, the children's toy building blocks in today's Guardian.  I have fond memories of Lego and have always wanted to do an exhibition with the colourful stuff.  Years ago I reached out to our Lego distributor here in the province and had made an encouraging start but never pursued it because of family demands on my time.  I click on the article link to find out more about the current world of Lego.  Guess what I find?


It is an article (the kind that is so well written I wish I had done it) with the headline:  Lego 'arms race': study says company making more violent toys.  "Am I being haunted?" I ask myself.  I try a different research path of links and read, "Lego: refusing to sell bricks to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was a mistake".  I learn about another artist interested in Lego - Nathan Sawya.  But I stop following links that are Lego themed when I discover a Polish priest who has pronounced that Lego is really the work of Satan. 

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