A Grinch of Olympic Proportions

By Devra Ferst

Published February 17, 2010, issue of February 26, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Vancouver-based klezmer musician Geoff Berner isn’t happy that his hometown is hosting the Olympics, and he wants you to know why. In a city packed with tourists, athletes and celebrities, all partaking in some old-fashioned Olympic cheer, Berner is singing the reason that he’s angry about the international sporting event, and the reason that Vancouver should be, too. His subversive anti-Olympic anthem, a sort of military march performed with an accordion and drum, is called “The Dead Children Were Worth It!” and its lyrics are telling:

Lyrical: Klezmer musician Geoff Berner penned an anti-Olympic anthem to protest the Vancouver Olympic Games.
FUMIE SUZUKI
Lyrical: Klezmer musician Geoff Berner penned an anti-Olympic anthem to protest the Vancouver Olympic Games.

All you terrific foreign
visitors —
We’re so glad that you’re here,
For our 8 billion dollar 2 week party
That we’re putting on this year.

Berner’s anger stems from the estimated $8 billion cost of the games, which he says has drained Vancouver’s budget, particularly its funds for social services. Citing articles run in daily newspapers as the inspiration for his song, he commented: “You see an announcement in the paper — canceling a bunch of services [provided and paid for by the government], then the next page [is] talking about the exciting new ice rink, which costs tens of millions of dollars. That’s what you get in Vancouver.”
Berner went on: “It’s a song about questioning our priorities.”

He’s not the only one who feels this way. Vancouver has recently seen protests against the Olympics.
Berner’s anthem can be considered the polar opposite of NBC’s inspirational official Olympic theme song, “One Day,” which was penned by fellow tribesman Matisyahu, an Orthodox reggae artist.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.