Chillin’ with The Dude

15 September 2020 – The smoke haze has lessened somewhat, and I visit Dude Chilling Park, first time out of the house in two days.

Two days ago, I did go out on my balcony, but only long enough to take this photo.

Never mind no mountains visible, almost no city visible either: that blue-tinged building mid-photo, just one and a half blocks away, is the limit of clarity. All this because of winds swirling north from those terrible wild fires along the American west coast. The morning of that photo, Vancouver’s air quality was second-worst in the world, behind Portland. Not only Old Wrinklies like me, everybody was being urged to stay indoors, with closed windows.

Then, suddenly, this afternoon, visibility improves. It’s not great, and I know the level of particulates is still dangerous, but I go for a walk. Over to see The Dude.

Understand this: this neighbourhood green space is really, officially, Guelph Park. Not Dude Chilling Park. Got that? Guelph Park.

And this sign …

is not an official Parks sign. It is public art.

Which is fitting, because the whole Dude Chilling thing is the result of another piece of public art. This one.

Well, to be tediously precise, it is the result of this sculpture’s predecessor, by the same artist. Michael Dennis created the original work in cedar, which after many years had deteriorated badly. He replaced it with this new version in bronze. The official name for either version is Reclining Figure, but the popular name was immediately, and remains, The Dude.

Of course. Just look at it — a dude leanin’ back, and chillin’. As a prank, somebody started an online petition to dump the boring old Guelph Park name in favour of Dude Chilling Park. Good prank, good fun, and tons of people signed the petition. Which did not amuse the Board of Parks. Then somebody installed a home-made Dude Chilling Park sign in the  park. Which still-unamused officials removed.

Things went on like that for a while, Fun vs Unamused, with a new public petition gathering some 1,500 signatures pleading that the fun sign/name be restored. Until I looked it up just now, I believed officialdom had yielded, and the park now had two official names. But no! Even better than that. Somebody donated this perfect imitation of a Parks sign … and the Board allowed it to be installed, as a work of art.

Not as an official name for the park. As a second work of art.

Well, I love this. Somehow nobody loses face and everybody wins and the good times roll and The Dude chills on.

Thing is, now with COVID, I swear people are seeking comfort from the embrace of his body language. They sit right up there with him. Like this.

 

I move down toward the tennis court fence, to check out its current crop of public art. This is one of the display walls favoured by our local (I think local) Yarn Artist, and the display sometimes changes.

One creation never leaves: this now-weathered yarn version of the park’s unofficial name.

 

This creation is somewhat newer — it features our beloved Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, beside the first phrase of her simple mantra for dealing with the virus.

“Be kind,” says the yarn. My mind fills in the rest: Be calm, Be safe.

I’m leaving the park, read a Megaphone magazine notice tacked to a post — and there is the mantra once again.

Dr. Henry and The Dude. We can do this.

 

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. For sure. 🙂

    I love the name Dude Chilling Park and would have signed the petition! Guelph Park? How tedious.

    Glad to hear the air has cleared up some. My husband is in Penticton and says that the smoke is stuck in the valley. He’s hoping for some rain to clear some of it out. It would be better if a drenching rain fell on those fires.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for the walk through the park, I like how both names stayed 👌
    Sorry to hear about the air quality, hope it clears soon 🍀

    Reply
  3. Yes my daughter is also saying white rock and no forest school for our grandson…take care Penny sending kindness ~ hedy ☺️💫

    Reply
  4. Mary C

     /  16 September 2020

    I think it’s great when people make public art their own by renaming it. I hope your balcony view improves soon!

    Reply
  5. The idea of installing that sign as another work of art is so lightheartedly brilliant! Good old Canadian compromise at work. We could learn something, but that ain’t gonna happen. And Dr. Henry – you know I enjoy listening to her. I was dismayed to hear she was dealing with abuse and even death threats. Such a crazy world. Take care, Penny!

    Reply
    • Yes, that was a brilliant response, wasn’t it — face-saving for everyone. Like you, I am (we are) horrified to learn of the threats directed at Dr. Henry: without reason, and ugly. Take care in your world as well, which I confess I currently find incomprehensible and therefore very frightening

      Reply
      • Yeah, we just wait for the next incomprehensible surprise, like we’ve been doing since 2016. I’m sure the election will be a crazy mess that will drag on and on. It will be business as usual: things will happen that you could not make up. You have to wonder how 20-somethings will come out of this period since it’s occurring in their formative years. Ah, time to just think about dinner…and cake!

      • yup, restore sanity by doin what we can do, and taking pleasure in it

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