The big non-news in Edmonton this week was the announcement that the area surrounding the new arena, previously known by the rather prosaic ‘arena district’, has been renamed Ice District. (Apparently, it is just ‘Ice District’, not ‘The Ice District’, according to the pretentious PR hacks behind this rebranding.) The Ice District (sorry) name was dreamed up by none other than Daryl Katz, the Oilers owner and arena co-owner. The grand plans for (cough, cough) Ice District include high rises with 1,000 units, 1.3 million sq. ft. of office space, a luxury hotel, restaurants, theatres, etc. Katz and co. didn’t bother to ask the city if they wanted the area renamed Ice District because, well, he’s Daryl Katz. Asking permission is for suckers. Bob Nicholson, vice-chair of the Oiler Entertainment Group, said the name will “capture the imagination of people in Edmonton and around the world.” Yes, I hear it’s the talk of the glitterati in New York already. My take? Who cares what they call it; it was just an attempt at cool PR move by the Oilers, maybe as an apology for allowing the new arena to be named (heavy sigh here) Rogers Place. Next up for Daryl Katz: buying up Chinatown, and renaming it the Rice District.
The Greek debt crisis is over. Sort of. After Greek voters roused themselves from doing nothing to vote against a package of austerity measures proposed by the European Union, the Greek government agreed to a package that was even worse than the deal rejected by the voters. In order to keep the money taps flowing, the Greeks have essentially agreed to turning over the keys to the Greek economy to the Eurozone, and by that I mean Germany. I won’t go into detail here because, well, I don’t understand it, but suffice to say that hard times are coming for Greece. There are even rumours that Greeks will have to start paying taxes! Part of the deal calls for Greece to sell off 50 billion Euros in assets. This could be difficult. How much can you get for an old pile of rubble like the Parthenon?
Oh, boy, is Mexico’s face red. Or even redder. Last year, the notorious drug kingpin Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman was finally arrested by Mexican authorities. El Chapo is such a successful criminal, he was once on Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s top billionaires. Anyway, El Chapo was safely behind bars in Mexico’s most secure prison, until he escaped via a 1.5 km long tunnel beneath the prison. The tunnel had lights, a ventilation system, and a motorcycle apparently used to transport the dirt. It is believed that the construction on the tunnel began basically right after El Chapo was sent to prison. A massive search is on for El Chapo, with police concentrating on, oh, I dunno … tunnels?
The big news in the literary world this week was the release of Harper Lee’s second (actually first) novel, called Go Set A Watchman. Lee, of course, wrote the classic To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the most beloved novels of the 20th century. It was believed that she never wrote another book, until the manuscript for Go Set A Watchman was found last year, apparently in a safety deposit box. Publisher Harper Collins has put millions of copies into print, 200,000 in Canada alone. Go Set A Watchman features the same characters from Mockingbird, Atticus Finch and his daughter Scout, but now Scout is all grown up and an attorney. That’s not the horror of the book, though; turns out Atticus is a bit of a racist! What next? Is there an unpublished manuscript that portrays Anne of Green Gables as a Nazi sympathizer?
Pipeline owner Nexen has a little oopsy this week, when a pipeline rupture in northern Alberta spilled a couple of swimming pools worth of bitumen and other guck into the muskeg. As the saying goes, these things happen, but there are safeguards in place so that when these things happen, a warning goes out. But the warning system didn’t work; if it weren’t for an engineer walking along the pipeline, the rupture would have gone undetected for who knows how long. The spill will be cleaned up, and Nexen will do its penance and mea culpas. In the short term, things get cleaned up. In the long term, with each spill it will become that much harder to get pipelines built.
Familiar with the dating site Plentyoffish (that’s Plenty of Fish for those of you who don’t read websitese)? Founded by Vancouverite Markus Frind in 2003, it now gets 2.2 billion views a month. Frind built the site without outside investors, so he owns the whole thing. This week, Frind sold Plenty of Fish to rival company Match Group for $575 million.
And finally, a royal non-scandal. The British lowbrow tabloid, The Sun, released a the 17-second-long film clip that shows the Queen — then about 7-years-old — at the family home in Balmoral, with her uncle Edward, mother and sister. The Queen Mother is seen raising her hand in the Nazi salute, and, after glancing at her mother, the Queen does the same, followed by Prince Edward, the future Edward VIII. You can see it here. In the great tradition of British tabloids’ tradition of clever/hilarious/rude headlines, The Sun’s report was titled “Their Royal Heilnesses.” Experts say that kids at the time often did the Nazi salute as a joke, and the Queen and her family were well-known for their hilarious sense of humour. Just a little fun … nothing to see here, people.