I guess that's the first, and most important thing about last night.
In other ways, it was such a night for disappointment. Disappointment then turned to shame and embarrassment, and anger as well.
(Thanks to Lisa Johnson)
Let's get the easy part out of the way first. The Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. It was a vicious series, full of cheap shots, hard hits, and play unbecoming of a sports league. But with the joke the NHL has become, I guess that shouldn't be too surprising.
But I'm proud of the Canucks. They played hard for two months, but just did not have enough gas for this final game. It looked like they were operating on fumes.
I'm not proud of what this city became last night.
We were at the game, and stayed just long enough to give Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL and all around asshole, a healthy boo as he emerged to present the Stanley Cup to the Bruins. Bettman is widely hated among hockey fans, so even if the Canucks had won, he would have been booed, before we went back to cheering our team for their accomplishment.
We left as soon as we finished the booing, and headed out. Many people had stayed to see the whole ceremony, so while the street outside Rogers Arena was crowded, it wasn't nearly as bad as it had been after Friday night's game.
After thinking about actually walking up Dunsmuir Street and through the crowd, we decided that it would probably be a lot better if we took a right turn, walked down to Pender street, and caught a bus instead. This would skirt around the majority of the crowd.
As we were walking toward Pender, we looked back toward the center of the city.
And we saw the first plume of smoke.
"I hope that's a bonfire," I said hopefully, though I knew it wasn't.
As we were waiting for the bus, I checked Twitter (the only way to get news nowadays) and saw reports of the first of what would be many burning cars on this night.
Vancouver had turned into a nightmare.
Multiple cars were overturned and set on fire. Newspaper boxes were thrown through storefront windows. Millions of dollars in damage occurred.
(Thanks to Mashable)
They say history repeats itself. It's such a cliche, yet cliches become that way because they're often true.
I wasn't here in 1994, when the Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the hated New York Rangers. That game was on the road, but there were still riots in the city. People still talk about the riots of '94.
They may not do that anymore.
Because we surpassed them.
As we were sitting at home after our (thankfully) uneventful bus ride home, watching the news (CTV did a remarkable job covering this), our hearts continued to break.
But as the coverage continued, I started thinking about other things as well. They continued to talk about how people were refusing to disperse, and I noticed how many people weren't necessarily contributing to the violence, but were instead taking cell phone pictures, an almost narcissistic way of saying "I was there when it all happened. See? Here's me in front of a burning car!"
News outlets, both television and newspaper, were constantly saying "are you down there? Send us your footage! Send us your pictures!" But doesn't that go against the urging, by the media and especially by the police, to "get out of the downtown core"?
In this age of Twitter, Facebook, and other outlets, how much of what happened last night was exacerbated by social media, that need for somebody to be "famous," if only to their friends?
The violence would have started regardless of social media, so I'm certainly not blaming it for what happened. These drunken louts, these anarchists who revel in destruction and were just looking for a way to do it, they would have rioted no matter what had happened. Even if the Canucks had won.
But did social media, or the desire to show off to friends what they saw, via camera phones, did that keep people down there when the otherwise sane people might have left?
That's a societal question that we may never be able to answer.
But I think it is something that authorities have to think about and deal with in the future.
On the good side, though, social media may help bring these idiots to justice, even more than happened in 1994.
People were taking pictures. They were taking videos. And Vancouver police have asked these people to share their pictures with them. And I'm sure there are thousands of them.
A Facebook group has been created for people to upload their photos to, with requests that if somebody knows a person in the picture, to tag them in it.
Of course, some people make it easier than others.
(Thanks to Graeme McRanor, click on image to make it larger and readable)
And some people, last night, have poetic justice inflicted on them.
(Hopefully that won't be taken down, but Youtube took down another version of it, so it will probably disappear shortly)
I am saddened by what happened last night. Even more sadly, I'm not shocked.
The Vancouver Olympics were an example of this city in all its glory. Huge crowds of people milling around, but happy and celebrating. Even if Canada had lost the hockey gold medal game, they would have just been out having fun. It was a 2-week party.
And while malcontents are always around, the police dealt with them quickly and efficiently, and quietly.
Last night, the police were overwhelmed.
(Thanks to Trendsmap)
The individual officers did a wonderful job, but I have to question the plan that was put in place for this. It obviously didn't work.
Last night was an example of this city at its worst. These anarchists (and that's all I can call them, as they certainly aren't "fans") have given this city another black mark on its reputation, replacing the one from 1994 that the Olympics had overcome.
This city is now known again as a city of hooligans.
And it pisses me off. Because I know the beauty of this city. I know how wonderful it can be.
Last night was an aberration, but unfortunately it's an aberration that the entire world saw.
And it took note.
Today, clean-up begins. A Facebook group already has over 12,000 people signed up to come downtown and help.
It's a start.
But sadly, that won't be as widely publicized.
Because if it bleeds, it leads.
And the good stories never get told. Not in this media age.
To all of you out there: Vancouver is a great place.
Don't let last night be your image of our fine city.
Instead, let this be what you think about.
(Thanks to DrumCafe)
Because this is the real Vancouver.